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Smartphones versus Food: Which would you chose?

Posted: 1:08 PM, Nov 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-16 18:08:23Z

University at Buffalo researchers have found that college students prefer food deprivation over smartphone deprivation.

Why? The results of the study suggest that smartphones can be more reinforcing than food for college students.

"In this study, we provide evidence for the first time that smartphones are reinforcing," Sara O'Donnell said. O'Donnell is co-author with Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the behavioral medicine division in the Department of Pediatrics."We also found that when deprived of both food and smartphones, students were much more motivated to work for time to use their smartphone, and were willing to part with more hypothetical money to gain access to their phone," she said.

The goal of the study was to find out whether smartphones could function as a reinforcing behavior, the same way that food, drugs and alcohol are reinforcers.

In the study, 76 UB college students ranging in age from 18 to 22, had no access to food for three hours and no access to their smartphones for two hours. During that time, they either studied or read newspapers.

 

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