British Study Shows How Smartphones Can Fuel Narcissistic Behaviors

By John Lavitt 06/16/15

Researchers claimed that smartphones increased narcissistic behavior even in users that previously had no such tendencies.

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According to a study from the University of Derby, smartphones should come with health warnings, but not for the reasons most people would typically suspect.

After examining the relationships consumers develop with their pocket computers, the study concluded that people could become addicted to their smartphones. Beyond becoming addicted, the study concluded that smartphones encourage narcissistic behaviors.

Informed by 256 self-selected smartphone users who responded to an online survey, the admittedly small sample of the study makes the conclusions far from scientifically conclusive. Since the study merely confirm, however, what most people have already suspected, the conclusions are being taken at face value. According to the study, 13% of respondents were addicted to their smartphones, which was linked to higher narcissism scores and neuroticism levels.

Perhaps even more intriguing, the researchers posit that smartphones lead to an increase in narcissistic behaviors even in users that previously did not have such tendencies.

“Three themes of social relations, smartphone dependence and self-serving personalities emerged from the qualitative data. Interpretation of qualitative data supports addiction specificity of the smartphone," the researchers explained. "It is suggested smartphones encourage narcissism, even in non-narcissistic users.”

Given the inherent nature of human vulnerability, is it surprising that people embrace the easy escape and self-involved comfort of modern smartphones. When people are freely making such choices, however, how can they be prevented from taking advantage of an utterly legal comfort zone?

Dr. Zaheer Hussain, the head researcher of the British study, believes adding warning labels to smartphones and the apps that run on them might be a good place to start.

“People need to know the potential addictive properties of new technologies," Hussain pointed out, adding, ‘It [the warning] could be before they purchase them or before they download an app. If you’re downloading a game such as Candy Crush or Flappy Bird there could be a warning saying that you could end up playing this for hours and you have other responsibilities [that could be neglected].”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.