There's not a pub quiz in the country that hasn't been hit by a smartphone related scandal, and it seems that the reason is more than just the fact that people are dirty, filthy cheaters. 

As it turns out, new research has taken a look at the early effects of smartphones and technology on our brains, and whether the ability to simply Google an answer to something that we used to have to think about is taking a toll on our cognitive function. 

The answer is, fairly definitively, yes, as the results of a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior show. They found that people who admit to relying heavily on their smartphone for information are less likely to have strong analytical thinking skills, and were much more likely to be intuitive thinkers. 

According to The Science of Us, the study posed people a number of problems to test their thinking skills, such as "A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?". 

As Gordon Pennycook, one of the authors of the study states, there is more to this question than meets the eye:

"The intuitive answer is 10 cents. However, this isn't correct (if the ball costs 10 cents, then the bat would cost 1.10 and in total they would cost 1.20). The correct answer is 5 cents. An intuitive person tends to just give the intuitive (10 cents) answer right away whereas a more analytical thinker will check to make sure the initial response (10 cents) is correct and, upon discovering that it is not, they will use their intelligence to get the correct answer (which is actually rather simple)."

The intuitive thinkers (the people who rely on their smartphones) were less likely to put as much effort into really thinking the problem through, and arriving at the correct answer.

The research is still in its early stages, but as Pennycook states, this could be the start of a worrying trend: "my concern is that we do not know the consequences of offloading much of our thinking to our smartphones over a long period of time - decades, perhaps. Will it make it less likely for us to think in analytical and logical ways about problems that cannot be Googled?". 


Via The Science of Us