Listening to one side of someone’s cellphone conversation is annoying — so much more annoying than having two people chatting back and forth right next to you.
That’s because when you hear one side of a conversation, no matter how dull (“oh really? He said what? Oh, you’re so right about that…”) your brain is heavily distracted trying to fill in the blanks, says a new study in the journal Psychological Science. It can’t predict the pattern and zone out like it can when you hear both parties talking, so your attention is constantly, and sometimes painfully, drawn.
I’ve always known that it’s not ideal for me to be on my cellphone in front of my son, but it’s not just because I’m distracted. It’s more than that.
In the study, subjects were given a task that required attention, while they were exposed to a two way conversation, one side of that conversation, or a monologue recapping the conversation. Sure enough, when subjects heard only one side, they performed worse on the task than they did while listening to the other two scenarios.
So when I’m yapping away while my son is trying to build a Lego tower, chances are I’m distracting him more than I would if my husband and I were both there talking in the background. More reasons to limit our multitasking while playing with our kids.
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