A person’s gaze at a smartphone screen encourages others to repeat after him

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Scientists have found that when someone starts checking messages on a smartphone, the people nearby do the same.

Experts believe that this automatic reaction is associated with imitation of each other’s actions. They note that similar mimicry has developed in human societies in order to help people get closer to each other.

A group of Italian scientists conducted a study in which specialists observed 88 women and 96 men in 820 different situations. The subjects were in cafes, parks, public transport, waiting rooms, restaurants. The research results were published in the Journal of Ethology.

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During the experiment, some participants specifically started checking their smartphone. They stared at the screen or tapped on it for a few seconds. The surrounding people did not know that they were being watched.

The study showed that half of people immediately automatically started looking at their smartphone within 30 seconds after someone next to the phone touched it. The author of the experiment noted that most people imitate the behavior of others without even realizing it. A person has a need to follow the norms imposed by others and automatically correlate his actions with theirs.

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However, scientists are worried that the use of smartphones can lead to the opposite effect and exacerbate social isolation. According to experts, some people without phones don’t even try to get close and feel more lonely.