Your Phone is Seriously Stressing You Out

And it might have something to do with your personality.

Photo by David Clark/Getty Images

Our cellphones are becoming our third arms—a new survey from the Pew Research Center confirms that most adults not only own a cell phone, but 90 percent keep it close by, and 45 percent "rarely" even turn their phones off. One-third of drivers have admitted to using their phone behind the wheel—even with children in the car—and one in five British drivers seem to think driving is a great time to snap a selfie. Despite research showing that smartphones could be making our brains lazy, ruining our posture, and decreasing our productivity, people still seem to be addicted to their devices. Now, for more bad news: Our phones are seriously stressing us out.

Researchers from National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan found that different personality types may be prone to different smartphone-related stress—termed "technostress." But regardless of what triggers the stress, the smartphone is the common thread. The research, published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, looked at how different cell phone users experience stress, and boiled it down to four relevant personality traits.

The first was "locus of control," which referred to people who believed that greater action equaled greater reward. These were multitaskers, who constantly checked email and often worked from home—and although they originally purchased the smartphone to help them manage their workload, the phone instead became a major stressor and "the bane of one's existence."

Researchers also studied people with high social interaction anxiety, and found those people depended on their phone for social connection, and became stressed from repeatedly checking the phone and using the internet. The third personality trait was a "need for touch," which was obviously satisfied by the touchscreens on many smartphones, and so these users were often fiddling with their phone—resulting in technostress.

The final trait studied was materialism, and surprisingly, regular cell phones caused more stress than smartphones in these cases. Researchers weren't quite sure why this was the case, but hypothesized that smartphone users had already achieved many of their materialistic desires, and so their stress, as it related to their smartphone, had a cap.

The researchers recommend that "people with a high level of technostress with the attendant psychological characteristics... reduce their usage of mobile phones, especially smartphones." Given the other consequences of being glued to your device, that seems like a beneficial move for everyone.