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Using Cell Phones Might Evoke Emotions, Study Suggests

FRIDAY Feb. 18, 2011 -- Tapping certain sequences of numbers on your cell phone can affect your emotions, German researchers suggest.

For example, typing the numbers that correspond to the letters in a word like "love" can trigger the feeling of that word in your mind, according to study author Sascha Topolinski, a psychological scientist at the University of Wurzburg.

The researchers created a list of German words that can be typed on a cell phone keypad without typing the same digit twice in a row. The number sequences created positive words such as "liebe" (love) and "freund" (friend), and negative words such as "schleim" (slime) and "angst" (fear).

Volunteers -- who believed they were taking part in an ergonomics study -- were asked to type the number sequences and to rate how pleasant it had been to enter the numbers on the phone. The letters on their keypads were covered and only the numbers were visible. The participants were not told that the number sequences were related to words.

On average, the participants preferred tapping the number sequences that related to positive words. Merely entering the number sequences on the cell phone was enough to activate the concept of the words into the participants' minds, the researchers said in a journal news release.

Topolinski said the findings relate to a psychology concept called embodiment, the theory that certain body movements can make you think about related ideas. For example, clenching a fist makes people think about power and holding a heavy clipboard makes them think a task is important.

The study was released online in advance of publication in the journal Psychological Science.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to maintain emotional health.

Posted: February 2011


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