Term of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Daniel Webster

Committee Member 1

Ty W. Boyer

Committee Member 2

Bradley Sturz


Smartphones are a ubiquitous part of daily life for most Americans. They offer an abundance of information, connectivity, and entertainment. Previous research suggests that smartphones are also responsible for cognitive costs in educational, public, private and professional settings when in use or audibly creating stimuli in the environment. Smartphones are also linked to an automatic attenuation of cognitive resources even when not in use and merely salient (Ward, Duke, Gneezy and Bos; Journal of the Association for Consumer Research; 2, 141, 154, 2017). The purpose of the present study was to experimentally test the effect of cell phone salience (present or absent) on cognitive performance and a physiological measure of stress. Participants were randomly assigned to a group that had their phone present (in front of them) or absent (in another room) Participants completed two separate tasks aimed to measure the cognitive resources (working memory capacity and fluid intelligence) while having their heart rate monitored. Results indicated that that cell phone presence inhibited performance and increased heart rate relative to phone absence. Results support interpretations that cell phone salience reduces cognitive performance and increases physiological measures associated with stress.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material