ENG 331 Group 7’s Final Project

Psychological Aspects

The psychology behind our current cell phone use is quite interesting and fairly prevalent in our current society. Everyday people encounter psychological behaviors due to cell phones, cell phone use, and cell phone etiquette. The psychology of a cell phone conversation is integral to how our society behaves and functions with these devices. This section will attempt to touch on some of these aspects.


Example of Flight Behavior

Example of Flight Behavior

There are three behaviors that users tend to have when answering a call in public:

1) Flight – The user stops what their current task is, seeks a quiet, private, secluded location or a location that is away from whatever task they are currently doing and conducts the conversation at this location

2)  Suspension – The user will stop their current task and answer the call while staying put in their current location.

3) Persistence – The user will not stop their current task and answer the call while staying put in their current location. In a sense, multitasking. 

The frequency of cell phone usage versus the location is also an interesting psychological study. One study by Motorola showed that users in upper class cafe’s tended to be much more moderate of their cell phone usage while users in a casual cafe tended to be more liberal with their cell phone use. The idea of usage by location also brings in the concept of a captured audience- audiences that are in a public setting and happen to hear one side of the phone conversation because of their close proximity to the user. This can be a problem because users often describe their conversations over cell phones as a personal or private connection between them and the other party. This causes more intimate thoughts to emerge- things we would not otherwise say to strangers. When other people hear these otherwise private conversations, the captured audience can make assumptions and thoughts about the user. There have been reports of people staging interesting phone calls in public locations like a bus to obtain the interest of surrounding people by putting a phone conversation on display, otherwise known as phone-staging.


During a cell phone call, a user typically takes one of these poses:

Example of Woman Using Speakeasy Pose

Example of Woman Using Speakeasy Pose

1)  Speakeasy: The user keeps their head up and thrown back and their neck is straight. This typically gives off the aura of self confidence and refusal to acknowledge the outside world. 

2)  Spacemaker: The user keeps their head lower and closer to the phone. The entire body is leaning towards the phone and the user may walk around in a repetitive pattern, starting and stopping in response to the conversation.


Relationships also tend to be effected by the psychology of mobile devices. Many people have reported that it is much easier to lie about their location, feelings, intentions, and current activities in a cell phone conversation. Others have also reported that they check their partner’s mobile phones and bills for suspicious messages or calls. However, not all effects on relationships are bad. Japan has a service called “virtual friend” where they may communicate with friends regularly that they have never met over the mobile phones.


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