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Study finds 89 percent of college students experience phantom vibration syndrome


A recent study conducted by researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne examined how many undergraduate students were experiencing “phantom vibration syndrome.” This occurs when a person thinks their phone is buzzing, but once they look at it, they didn’t receive anything.

The study found 89 percent of undergraduates reported experiencing this sensation at least once. The students felt the false buzzing at least one every two weeks on average, while other dealt with it much more often.

The researchers determined this to be either a misinterpretation of sensory input, a form of social contagion or just a hallucination. They also looked at the type of personalities were associated with the higher instances of the syndrome as well as looked how often these individuals used their phones.

They identified two separate personality traits that were associated with higher incidences of phantom vibration syndrome. Those who were extroverts and neurotics were the most likely to feel the sensation. Extroverts likely experience it because they check their phones often to keep in touch with friends, as this is an important part of their life. Neurotics likely check their phones often because they are worrying about their relationships, the study authors explain. Also, those who spent the most time on their phones were more likely to experience the syndrome.

According to Mashable, the researchers do not consider this syndrome to be an actual disease. Instead, they believe it happens the same way someone will think their name is being called. In some cases, the brain hiccups in a sense, and people hear something incorrectly. This syndrome seems to be the same sensation.

“Presumably, if individuals considered these imagined vibrations ‘pathological tactile hallucinations,’ they would feel bothered that they had them. Instead, it is likely that individuals consider these phantom vibrations a normal part of the human-mobile phone interactive experience,” the study authors wrote.

This isn’t the first time a phobia or syndrome has been linked to a person’s view of their cell phone. Those who find themselves anxious and worried about losing their device may want to implement a cell phone tracking software. This will allow the owner to track their phone if it is lost or stolen as well as notify them if someone is trying to access personal information on the phone.