It Turns Out Our Smartphones Are Making Us Less Creative At Work

But you knew that already, right?

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by Polly Foreman |
Updated on

New research has suggested that our smartphones are making us more stupid and less creative, meaning we’re now slightly regretting all those hours spent working on our Instagram aesthetics fancying ourselves as the next Bridget Riley.

A study conducted by Ethan Bernstein of Harvard Business School professes that the exceptionally heightened levels of communication smartphones brought with them has decreased, not, as originally predicted by Silicon Valley, increased, our intelligence.

“There is a dark side to too much interaction,” Professor Bernstein argues. “Consensus comes at the cost of quality.”

In his study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1,500 subjects, divided into three groups, were asked to complete a highly complex puzzle.

In one group, the subjects were not allowed to interact; in another, they were intermittently allowed; and in the last, they were allowed to interact constantly.

The group that were able to constantly interact produced a higher quality of solution because of their ability to weed out the worst answers and reach an equilibrium of good solutions by working together. And the group that were allowed intermittently contact came up with an almost equally strong solution.

However, the group who made no contact at all had the lowest average quality of solution.

And the findings have important implications for our work life, Bernstein says.

The increasing use of ever-more-advanced smartphone technologies, rather than face-to-face contact, to connect with co-workers (which most of us do without a second thought) render us unable to work together to find the best solutions to problems, he argues.

13 going on 30
©Columbia Pictures

So those of you for whom the thought of sacrificing relying solely on your daily work email email in favour of (the horror!) actually speaking out loud to the colleagues sat on your neighbouring desks fills you with dread may be best advised to unplug those headphones and urgently reconsider...

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