Why you think your phone is vibrating when it is not

If you’ve ever thought your phone was ringing or vibrating in your pocket when it wasn’t, there’s a scientific explanation for Phantom Ringing. As it turns out, humans adjust their perception of signals based on the importance they place on the event – sometimes to the detriment of accuracy. All those years of getting that short-lived burst of oxytocin from trivial updates, has messed with your ability to accurately gauge it. 

The short version is, if you highly prize notifications (whether within reason or not), you’re more likely to think you’re receiving notifications, even when you’re not. Common sense dictates that phantom rings cause nearly as much disruption to your thought patterns and focus as an actual ring. This is obviously a bad thing. 

Shorter version: As FOMO increases, number of phantom rings increase. 

“The trade-off between false alarms and misses also explains why we all have to put up with fire alarms going off when there isn’t a fire. It isn’t that the alarms are badly designed, but rather that they are very sensitive to smoke and heat – and biased to avoid missing a real fire at all costs. The outcome is a rise in the number of false alarms. These are inconvenient, but nowhere near as inconvenient as burning to death in your bed or office. The alarms are designed to err on the side of caution.”

Why you think your phone is vibrating when it is not


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