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Victim of 'ringxiety' or 'Phantom Vibration Syndrome'? Research says you might be too needy


Do you often feel your phone vibrating or hear it ding, only to find that actually, nobody’s contacted you at all? No text, no missed call, not even a Tweet, Snap or Instagram like.

Well, that’s what tech researchers call Phantom Vibration Syndrome, and the rate at which you experience it could reveal rather a lot about your personality.

According to new research published in the Cyberspychology, Behaviour and Social Networking journal, those prone to regular phantom buzzes also experience higher levels of attachment anxiety, and crave more reassurance and attention from their friends.

That’s right, the needier you are, the more ‘ringxiety’ you're likely to get.

Woman checking phone in cafe

The research team at University of Michigan School of Public Health measured how often a group of people with high attachment anxiety reported phantom vibrations, compared with those with attachment avoidance (people who go out of their way to avoid social interaction).

As the team expected, the former group were far more likely to experience ghost-like notifications - 18 per cent more likely, in fact.

Some eight in 10 people said they had experienced phantom vibrations, while almost half the group reported hearing ‘ringing’ sounds, despite there being no call registered.

“We believe this phenomenon can be understood as a human signal detection issue, with potentially important influences from psychological attributes,” says Dr Daniel Kruger, co-author of the research paper.

Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Dr Brenda Wiederhold, also notes: “There is a growing awareness that ringxiety may result in both immediate and longer term negative health effects, including headache, stress, and sleep disturbances.”

These conclusions backup findings published by Georgia Tech University researchers last month, which also explored Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Though the exact reasons as to why we experience the phenomenon are still being established, Dr Rosenberger, Assistant professor at Georgia Tech, speculates:

“We have a phone call in our pocket all the time and it becomes sort of an extension of ourselves.

“We have this sort of readiness to experience a call. We feel something and we think, OK, that could be a call.”



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