Feeling Stressed By Your Smartphone? Your Personality Might Influence Feelings Of Technostress, Says Study

We all have moments when our phone is causing us strife, but do you feel constant anxiety caused by your smartphone? A new study suggests that if you feel stressed out by your smartphone, it might actually have as much to do with your personality as it does with the device itself. Published in Behaviour & Information Technology, the study was intended to examine the relationship between personality types and "technostress," which the researchers defined as "a feeling of anxiety or mental pressure from overexposure or involvement with (computer) technology." So that nagging feeling you get when you haven't checked your phone for an hour? The pressure you feel to be constantly available over email? That's technostress — and you might be predisposed to it.

Lead researcher Yu-Kang Lee and his team studied four specific personality traits to see how they related to how people experienced technostress: Locus of control, social interaction anxiety, need for touch, and materialism. In addition, they studied the types of phones people used to see if people using particular devices were more prone to technostress than others. In order to see how each of these personality traits influenced how study participants experienced technostress, let's take a closer look at the findings for each personality type.

1. Locus of Control

First, the researchers studied what they called "locus of control," which they understood to mean, "The extent to which people believe that their actions determine their rewards in life." Another way you could think of it is self-determination, or being in control of your own destiny. The researchers found that having this belief was more likely to lead you into the trap of buying a smartphone in order to stay more on top of your work — only to find that it causes you more anxiety. They also found that owning a smartphone increased technostress significantly more than a traditional phone did, thanks to the constant multi-tasking and notification checking that smartphones allow.

2. Social Interaction Anxiety

Next, the researchers examined the personality trait of social interaction anxiety (SIA), or an intense fear of social interactions that can drive people into isolation. They found that those with SIA were more likely to depend on their social networking sites for connection to others, also making them more likely to face the negative consequences of obsessive social media use and Internet addiction. So if you're like me and find that most of your relationships with your friends, connections, and even colleagues have been fostered largely by the Internet, you're a lot more likely to suffer from the consequences of technostress.

3. Need for Touch

The next trait the researchers examined was the need for touch, which literally means the need to be stimulated through the sense of touch to find pleasure or relief. Constantly being on their smartphones helps those that possess the need for touch to satisfy it, since smartphones involve a lot of touching of the phone and its screen. They found that touching their smartphone became "almost compelling" and led them to experience a lot of the fallout of technostress.

4. Materialism

The last trait examined by the researchers was materialism, which led to some intriguing findings. This was the only personality trait that was actually perpetuated more by traditional phones than smartphones, although the results didn't provide a clear explanation as to why. The study authors reasoned that perhaps because smartphones have reached "a ceiling" in regards to their availability (since everyone from Kim Kardashian to yours truly has an iPhone), those who are materialistic can't satisfy their desires through the purchase of a new device, leading to more stress.

If you're suffering from technostress, the study's authors make a practical suggestion as to how you should handle it: Stop using your phone so much! We're all probably at least a little stressed out from technology, so let's all try to disconnect a little bit in order to de-technostress.

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