PSYCHOLOGY TEXTING RESEARCH



January 26, 2012

Contact: Greg Dart
Snow College
435-283-7154 (office)
435-340-0514 (cell)


Below is a brief synopsis of the research Snow College students and faculty have been doing. Recently, the research was presented by students at a National Conference and the students are in the process of preparing it for publication.

Here is what we have been doing.   We noticed that there is research saying that texting and driving is potentially lethal, there are also reports of students staying up well into the night texting…. But NO research is out there that explains WHY students do this.   So we started talking in one of my upper level classes and had the idea that when students receive a text they have a need to answer it… so much so that if they are unable to they actually have negative emotional consequence such as anxiety.
So last year we started a pilot study.  We surveyed over 300 students here at snow and asked them about their texting habits, frequency, etc.   But we were sure to include a question about how they felt when they could not respond to a text.  Here are some of the amazing results from last year’s research:

  • 86% of snow college students text and drive
  • Many students do not consider it texting and driving if they only do it once and a while (their vision is the person who is doing it all the time)
  • For About 80% of students texting regularly disrupts their studying time and class time
  • Most students know 0 people who do not have a cell phone
  • The best correlative predictor of if a student will text while driving or wake up to text is if they will text in class.

Probably two of the most significant findings are these:

  • Students were on average woken up 2-5 times a week due to texting
  • About 65% of students report depressive or anxiety related emotions when they are unable to text

This year we have given the survey to over 1800 students (both college and high school) and have refined the study somewhat gaining even more insight into the phenomena

  • We have had numerous students when taking the survey say that they don’t wake up to text because they STAY up texting
  • The average student stays up over 2 hours past their intended bed time.  Many students stay up until between 3:00-5:00am texting
  • Students are getting their first cell phones at younger ages
  • The highest number of texts sent and received so far is 45,000 a month – which would mean that the student would be texting just over one text every minute every day for a month.
  • We also have found that students grossly underestimate the number of texts they send & receive (they may report 500 but it is more likely to be 8 or 900)
  • **We did find that the younger students were the greater the emotional impact was if they received a text and could not answer it.
  • **Another big finding is that over 75% of students have negative emotional impacts from constant texting – 65% say they are anxious or depressed when they can not answer a text.
  • We also found: girls are more emotionally impacted by cell phones

 

  • In the future we plan on taking the research further.  We will probably refine the measure a little more, then we will give it to students across the nation (I will be talking to people at a conference in January)
  • We will be seeking grant money (which we will need for the next phase)
  • The final phase of the research will be to actually hook people up to skin conductance machines (kind of like lie detectors) so we can actually measure the emotional changes when a student receives a text but can not answer it.
  • The GREAT thing about this research is the student drive.  Although I have helped, steered, and worked with them, the students are the ones who are putting the hours in to make sure it happens

 

On top of the great things that are happening with the texting research,  the Psychology Department is doing A LOT more than just that.

  • Survivors Hope Project – We are starting to record the stories of survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and abuse.  We will share that with the wellness center so when others are going through these events they can listen to know they are not alone and there is hope.
  • Project M – Next semester we will start collecting women’s and teen girl’s magazines.  Students will then start coding patterns in images, stories, etc… we want to see the messages girls and women are being bombarded with all the time and see if they are different.
  • Sexual Assault Prevention & Healthy Dating – This is the ongoing service project the psychology club does.  I teach the students how to help teach sexual assault prevention (self-defense & knowledge based) then we take our courses to the female students here as well as out to the community.  Over the last year we have taught over 200 girls, and the psychology students who have been involved have individually amassed over 30 hours of service each.  
  • Local Ghost Stories – In conjunction with my psychology of fear we are going to start collecting local ghost stories.  The end goal will be to make 10min short movies that involve many of the other departments on campus (i.e. costume, acting, film, special effects, etc)
  • We have just started a new class to get students into volunteer experiences in their respective fields.  We are currently working with local mental health providers, schools, and other organizations to see how students can be involved.
  • We are actively taking student to conferences and helping them become published – which at the freshman & sophomore level is amazing – last year we took about 20 students to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (RMPA) conference
  • We will be taking another large (over 25) group of students to Reno this year for RMPA
  • My Psychology in the Popular Media class is getting some attention from other schools.  I will be presenting on the model I use to teach the class at an upcoming conference in May.

 

Research endeavors and successes:  I think it is important to identify that even though Snow is not a research institution we are actively engaging our students in research experience.  Some of it is research that we have going on locally, some we work with our student to help create, and some is in conjunction with other schools (currently working on solidifying projects from University of Rhode Island, USU, SUU, Trident Tech, and Princeton).  Here are some of our current endeavors or successes.

  • We took two sophomores to present research at a national conference in FL (they were the only sophomores there.
  • We recently had 3 submissions accepted at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
  • We have just submitted 8 proposals to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Conference (RMPA)
  • We help host a local conference – Central Utah Community Conference
  • Some of the student driven research projects include
    • Success of Long-Term Absentee Relationships in a Culturally Specific Group – (AKA – Do girls really marry the missionary they wait for)
    • Body Image Ideals Influenced by Prime-Time Television
    • Cartoon Creep – (examining the influx of adult directed comments in cartoons)
    • Self-Esteem's Influence on the Interpretation of Flirting
    • Age-graded Influence on the Encoding of Public Flashbulb Memories
  • Research on the social class of TV criminals (we are seeing that crime dramas are over-representing wealthy individuals as the perpetrators of crime) – This was a poster presentation at a local conference last year
  • We are also planning on starting research on the level of congruence between parents beliefs about adolescent drug use and the reality – specifically if the parents know what drugs their children are even being exposed to now.

 

Still some more notes:

  • In the last four years the number of psychology majors has over doubled.
  • Snow used to have one course that transferred (1010) and two other small courses that would not.
    • Now we have six courses above Intro which all transfer, and are all full (over 30 students) each semester.
    • Now we also teach ed-net courses to local high schools
    • And online courses in psy 1010
    • **One of these courses, Psychology in the Popular Media, is a fun and innovative class that is unique enough that we are presenting on it at conferences
  • We also teach the larger sections in the library rooms & use iClicker
  • AND of course… now we have the Social Science Lab.  Which has really made a lot of these things much easier to accomplish.