CSUDH Professors Tell All: ‘Brain Hacking’ Smartphone Apps Can Generate Anxiety Among Users

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Effects of Smartphone Apps To Human Behaviors Unveiled

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Curious about the effects of smartphone apps on human behaviors, Anderson Cooper, interviewed two professors from California State University, Dominguez Hills. This is Brain Hacking.

In the interview, the correspondent for “60 Minutes” was able to gather new facts supporting the existence of brain hacking apps which were created to get users hooked and the potential of some apps to generate anxiety.

These new discoveries were confirmed by Larry Rosen and Nancy Cheever, both CSUDH professors and experts on the effects of digital technology on emotions, behavior, and overall psychology.

Larry Rosen, a psychology professor and expert in applied cognitive psychology, told Cooper that when smartphone users put down their smartphones they experience anxiety. At that time, their brains signal their adrenal glands to release a “burst” of cortisol, the hormone that triggers human’s fight-or-flight reaction to danger.

The Explanation

Rosen explained during the “60 Minutes” interview with Cooper how some smartphone apps trigger anxiety among users.

Rosen said users get that anxious feeling to check their social media notifications because it’s coming from inside their head telling them, ‘Gee, I haven’t checked Facebook in a while. I haven’t checked my Twitter feed for a while. I wonder if somebody commented on my Instagram post.”

With the thought itself urging users to check their social media accounts, it generates cortisol and it starts to make one anxious. Eventually, to get rid of that anxiety, the user will give in to that voice to check in.

Pokemon users.
Avid Pokemon users.

Anderson Participates in Anxiety Test

To have first hand experience on the potential of technology to trigger anxiety, Anderson Cooper participated in an anxiety test at the university’s laboratory through the use of two physiological devices.

Professor Nancy Cheever, a communications professor, used skin conductance device to measure Cooper’s electrodermal activity or sweat. The heart rate was monitored by an electrocardiogram to measure cardiac activity by measuring heartbeats per minute.and changes in the electrical properties of the skin.

The professor hooked Cooper to the two physiological devices by applying electrodes to his fingers. After placing his smartphone on a table behind him to “avoid distractions,” Cooper watched a video about media ownership ostensibly to test his physiological “arousal” to the video. However, the video was just a trick and part of the test.

While Cooper was watching the video, Cheever sent some texts to the TV personality. The results were interesting.

Professor Cheever said the results showed Cooper’s anxiety level increased during the test.

Cheever said, “We looked at the results and you could see that there was a definite spike in his physiological arousal – both the texts and call induced electrodermal activity in Anderson, but his heart rate pretty much stayed the same. So my deduction was that he likely has great conditioning, both mentally and physically, after being on television for so long. You would expect that.”

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.