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Are We Likely To Make More Rational Decisions While Using Phones As Compared To Using PCs?

Are We Likely To Make More Rational Decisions While Using Phones As Compared To Using PCs?

According to the results of a study recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, it appears that today’s consumers are more likely to make a rational decision when encountering a dilemma presented on a smartphone device. The study showed that users on personal computers (PCs) depend more on intuitive emotional decision making, and thus may not always pick the most rational choices.

According to the research team who conducted the study, users typically focus on completing just one task while using smartphone devices. PCs, on the other hand, let users are more prone to being exposed with other outside information. 

Of course, the researchers took the time to properly test this hypothesis. What they did was present multiple dilemmas to a sample set consisting of more than a thousand users, and then evaluated the study’s participants on how they reacted when using a smartphone device or a PC (the type of device was assigned randomly to each person).

Wait -- exactly what type of dilemmas were presented to the participants? One example was the usual trolley problem -- a runaway trolley is headed towards five people all tied up on the train tracks. If the participant does nothing, five people will die. However, if the participant decides to push another person off a bridge, it will stop the trolley from killing five people. 33.5 percent of smartphone users chose to push one person off the bridge in order to save the five (an option that is considered the more rational), while only 22.3 percent of PC users selected this option. 

Another variation of the trolley problem presents an option wherein a lever can be pulled in order to divert the trolley and save the five people tied up on the train tracks, but would result in the death of another separate individual. 80.9 percent of smartphone users chose to divert the trolley (and kill just one person), while 76.9 percent of PC users made the same decision. 

As explained by Dr Albert Barque-Duran, the lead author of the study, when people were presented with a dilemma on a smartphone device, they were more likely to make an unemotional, rational decision. The possible reason for this is that smartphone devices often present increased time pressures on users. The researcher also noted that when using smartphones, an increased psychological distance can also occur, at least when compared to using PCs.