O-M-G, too much texting can make you shallow! That’s according to University of Winnipeg psychologist Dr. Paul Trapnell.
He wanted to see how text messaging fit into something called the shallowing hypothesis. It’s a theory that suggests that brief media-related communications - like text messages, IMs, and Facebook posts - discourage deep thought. In other words, it makes you more shallow, and less introspective.
So, each semester for the last 5 years, he’s asked students to track how many text messages they send and receive on a daily basis. About one-third of the students had at least one day a month where they topped 200. And some received more than 300 texts on their peak day, that’s one about every 3 minutes! Each student also took a series of tests that evaluated their personality traits.
The result: The students who texted more than 100 times a day were 30% less likely to believe that leading an ethical life was important. Heavy texters were more concerned about wealth and image than those who texted half as often.
Study coauthor Dr. Lisa Sinclair points out that this doesn’t prove that texting causes shallow behavior. But the results have remained consistent over all 5 years of the study.
I can almost hear our younger listeners thinking, “So, how many texts are okay?” Neuroscientist Mary Helen Yang says there’s no magic number. The key is to spend some time each day away from media-related distractions. That’s because some complex thoughts - like feeling empathy for other people - takes more time to process than the time it takes to fire off a bunch of tweets or text messages.