1. Study looks at language often used by people with ADHD on Twitter

    November 20, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Pennsylvania press release:

    What can Twitter reveal about people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD? Quite a bit about what life is like for someone with the condition, according to findings published by University of Pennsylvania researchers Sharath Chandra Guntuku and Lyle Ungar in the Journal of Attention Disorders. Twitter data might also provide clues to help facilitate more effective treatments.

    “On social media, where you can post your mental state freely, you get a lot of insight into what these people are going through, which might be rare in a clinical setting,” said Guntuku, a postdoctoral researcher working with the World Well-Being Project in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health. “In brief 30- or 60-minute sessions with patients, clinicians might not get all manifestations of the condition, but on social media you have the full spectrum.”

    Guntuku and Ungar, a professor of computer and information science with appointments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Wharton School and Penn Medicine, turned to Twitter to try to understand what people with ADHD spend their time talking about. The researchers collected 1.3 million publicly available tweets posted by almost 1,400 users who had self-reported diagnoses of ADHD, plus an equivalent control set that matched the original group in age, gender and duration of overall social-media activity. They then ran models looking at factors like personality and posting frequency.

    “Some of the findings are in line with what’s already known in the ADHD literature,” Guntuku said. For example, social-media posters in the experimental group often talked about using marijuana for medicinal purposes. “Our coauthor, Russell Ramsay, who treats people with ADHD, said this is something he’s observed in conversations with patients,” Guntuku added.

    The researchers also found that people with ADHD tended to post messages related to lack of focus, self-regulation, intention and failure, as well as expressions of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. They often used words like “hate,” “disappointed,” “cry” and “sad” more frequently than the control group and often posted during hours of the day when the majority of people sleep, from midnight to 6 a.m.

    “People with ADHD are experiencing more mood swings and more negativity,” Ungar said. “They tend to have problems self-regulating.”

    This could partially explain why they enjoy social media’s quick feedback loop, he said. A well-timed or intriguing tweet could yield a positive response within minutes, propelling continued use of the online outlet.

    Using information gleaned from this study and others, Ungar and Guntuku said they plan to build condition-specific apps that offer insight into several conditions, including ADHD, stress, anxiety, depression and opioid addiction. They aim to factor in facets of individuals, their personality or how severe their ADHD is, for instance, as well as what triggers particular symptoms.

    The applications will also include mini-interventions. A recommendation for someone who can’t sleep might be to turn off the phone an hour before going to bed. If anxiety or stress is the major factor, the app might suggest an easy exercise like taking a deep breath, then counting to 10 and back to zero.

    “If you’re prone to certain problems, certain things set you off; the idea is to help set you back on track,” Ungar said.

    Better understanding ADHD has the potential to help clinicians treat such patients more successfully, but having this information also has a downside: It can reveal aspects of a person’s personality unintentionally, simply by analyzing words posted on Twitter. The researchers also acknowledge that the 50-50 split of ADHD to non-ADHD study participants isn’t true to life; only about 8 percent of adults in the U.S. have the disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In addition, people in this study self-reported an ADHD diagnosis rather than having such a determination come from a physician interaction or medical record.

    Despite these limitations, the researchers say the work has strong potential to help clinicians understand the varying manifestations of ADHD, and it could be used as a complementary feedback tool to give ADHD sufferers personal insights.

    “The facets of better-studied conditions like depression are pretty well understood,” Ungar said. “ADHD is less well studied. Understanding the components that some people have or don’t have, the range of coping mechanisms that people use — that all leads to a better understanding of the condition.”


  2. Researchers design a gait recognition method that can overcome intra-subject variations by view differences

    November 18, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Osaka University press release:

    Biometric-based person recognition methods have been extensively explored for various applications, such as access control, surveillance, and forensics. Biometric verification involves any means by which a person can be uniquely identified through biological traits such as facial features, fingerprints, hand geometry, and gait, which is a person’s manner of walking.

    Gait is a practical trait for video-based surveillance and forensics because it can be captured at a distance on video. In fact, gait recognition has been already used in practical cases in criminal investigations. However, gait recognition is susceptible to intra-subject variations, such as view angle, clothing, walking speed, shoes, and carrying status. Such hindering factors have prompted many researchers to explore new approaches with regard to these variations.

    Research harnessing the capabilities of deep learning frameworks to improve gait recognition methods has been geared to convolutional neural network (CNN) frameworks, which take into account computer vision, pattern recognition, and biometrics. A convolutional signal means combining any two of these signals to form a third that provides more information.

    An advantage of a CNN-based approach is that network architectures can easily be designed for better performance by changing inputs, outputs, and loss functions. Nevertheless, a team of Osaka University-centered researchers noticed that existing CNN-based cross-view gait recognition fails to address two important aspects.

    “Current CNN-based approaches are missing the aspects on verification versus identification, and the trade-off between spatial displacement, that is, when the subject moves from one location to another,” study lead author Noriko Takemura explains.

    Considering these two aspects, the researchers designed input/output architectures for CNN-based cross-view gait recognition. They employed a Siamese network for verification, where an input is a pair of gait features for matching, and an output is genuine (the same subjects) or imposter (different subjects) probability.

    Notably, the Siamese network architectures are insensitive to spatial displacement, as the difference between a matching pair is calculated at the last layer after passing through the convolution and max pooling layers, which reduces the gait image dimensionality and allows for assumptions to be made about hidden features. They can therefore be expected to have higher performance under considerable view differences. The researchers also used CNN architectures where the difference between a matching pair is calculated at the input level to make them more sensitive to spatial displacement.

    “We conducted experiments for cross-view gait recognition and confirmed that the proposed architectures outperformed the state-of-the-art benchmarks in accordance with their suitable situations of verification/identification tasks and view differences,” coauthor Yasushi Makihara says.

    As spatial displacement is caused not only by view difference but also walking speed difference, carrying status difference, clothing difference, and other factors, the researchers plan to further evaluate their proposed method for gait recognition with spatial displacement caused by other covariates.


  3. Study suggests ways to make email and other technology interruptions productive

    November 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business, Queen’s University press release:

    The average knowledge worker enjoys a measly five minutes of uninterrupted time and, once interrupted, half won’t even get back to what they were doing in the first place. Yet organizational expectations or social pressures make it hard to resist the urge to check incoming emails or text messages — pressing tasks be damned.

    Research suggests that such interruptions are not necessarily bad, and can even be productive.

    “I know from personal experience that some interruptions are actually good,” says Shamel Addas, an assistant professor of information systems at Smith School of Business. “It depends on the content and timing. You can get some critical information that will help, like completing your task. So that’s one of the assumptions I feel needs to be challenged and tested.”

    Addas has conducted several studies to learn more about the relationship between technology-related interruptions and performance.

    He found that interruptions that did not relate to primary activities undermined workers’ performance — they led to higher error rates, poorer memory, and lower output quality. It also took longer for workers to return to their primary work and complete their tasks. Such interruptions also had an indirect effect on performance by increasing workers’ stress levels.

    Email interruptions that related to workers’ primary activities increased stress levels as well but also boosted workers’ performance. Such interruptions were tied to mindful processing of task activities, which led to better performance both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

    Addas also discovered that the very features of the interrupting technology can influence the outcomes of the interruptions positively or negatively. Individuals who engaged in several email threads of conversations at the same time or those who kept getting interrupted by email but let the messages pile up in their in-box experienced higher stress levels and lower performance.

    And those who reprocessed their received messages during interruptions episodes or rehearsed their message responses before sending saw some benefits. Doing this enabled them to process their tasks more mindfully, Addas says, which boosted their performance.

    What does this mean for managers? For one thing, just recognizing that there are different types of interruptions, each with its own trade off, can help managers mitigate the negative impacts on performance and stress.

    Addas suggests that managers develop email management programs and interventions, such as specifying a time-response window for emails based on their urgency or relevance to primary activities. They can also establish periods of quiet time for uninterrupted work. And they can encourage work groups to develop effective coordination strategies to ensure one person’s interruptions do not adversely affect colleagues.

    As for individuals, they can start handling interruptions in batch rather than in real time to reduce the costs of switching back and forth between tasks and interruptions. To reduce stress from overload, Addas suggests, people should limit parallel exchanges during interruptions and delete or folder messages that are of limited use for their core work.

    “People might well consider thinking about the messages they construct and examining carefully their previously received messages as needed to ensure that they process their tasks more mindfully, which is beneficial for performance,” Addas says.

    Addas believes there are design implications to consider as well, particularly relating to context aware systems and email clients. Context aware systems know what kinds of tasks people are working on and can detect high and low periods of workload. “Email clients can be programmed to screen messages for task-relevant content and distinguish between incongruent and congruent interruptions,” he says. “They can then manipulate the timing at which each type of interruption is displayed to users, such as masking incongruent interruptions until a later time.”


  4. Study suggests removing digital devices from the bedroom can improve sleep for children, teens

    November 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Penn State press release:

    Removing electronic media from the bedroom and encouraging a calming bedtime routine are among recommendations Penn State researchers outline in a recent manuscript on digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence.

    The manuscript appears in the first-ever special supplement on this topic in Pediatrics and is based on previous studies that suggest the use of digital devices before bedtime leads to insufficient sleep.

    The recommendations, for clinicians and parents, are:

      • 1. Make sleep a priority by talking with family members about the importance of sleep and healthy sleep expectations;

    2. Encourage a bedtime routine that includes calming activities and avoids electronic media use;

    3. Encourage families to remove all electronic devices from their child or teen’s bedroom, including TVs, video games, computers, tablets and cell phones;

    4. Talk with family members about the negative consequences of bright light in the evening on sleep; and

    5. If a child or adolescent is exhibiting mood or behavioral problems, consider insufficient sleep as a contributing factor.

    “Recent reviews of scientific literature reveal that the vast majority of studies find evidence for an adverse association between screen-based media consumption and sleep health, primarily delayed bedtimes and reduced total sleep duration,” said Orfeu Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State and an author on the manuscript.

    The reasons behind this adverse association likely include time spent on screens replacing time spent sleeping; mental stimulation from media content; and the effects of light interrupting sleep cycles, according to the researchers.

    Buxton and other researchers are further exploring this topic. They are working to understand if media use affects the timing and duration of sleep among children and adolescents; the role of parenting and family practices; the links between screen time and sleep quality and tiredness; and the influence of light on circadian physiology and sleep health among children and adolescents.


  5. Study suggests game design elements can help increase physical activity among adults

    October 17, 2017 by Ashley

    From the JAMA Network Journals press release:

    Physical activity increased among families in a randomized clinical trial as part of a game-based intervention where they could earn points and progress through levels based on step goal achievements, according to a new article published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

    More than half of the adults in the United States don’t get enough physical activity. Gamification, which is the use of game design elements such as points and levels, is increasingly used in digital health interventions. However, evidence of their effectiveness is limited.

    Mitesh S. Patel, M.B.A., M.S., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and coauthors conducted a clinical trial among adults enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-standing cohort of families. The clinical trial included a 12-week intervention and 12 more weeks of follow-up among 200 adults from 94 families.

    All study participants tracked their daily step counts with either a wearable device or a smartphone to establish a baseline and then selected a step goal increase. They were given performance feedback by text or email for 24 weeks. About half of the adults participated in the gamification arm of the study and were entered into a game with their family where they could earn points and progress through levels as a way to enhance social incentives through collaboration, accountability and peer support, as well as physical activity.

    More than half of the participants were female and the average age was about 55. At the start of the trial, the average number of daily steps was 7,662 in the control group of the study and 7,244 in the group with the game-based intervention.

    During the 12-week intervention period, participants in the gamification arm achieved step goals on a greater proportion of participant-days (difference of 0.53 vs. 0.32) and they had a greater increase in average daily steps compared with baseline (difference of 1,661 vs. 636) than the control group, according to the results.

    While results show physical activity declined during the 12-week follow-up period in the gamification group, it was still better than that in the control group for the proportion of participant-days achieving step goals (difference of 0.44 vs. 0.33) and the average daily steps compared with baseline (difference of 1,385 vs. 798).

    The study notes some limitations, including ones that may limit generalizability such as all participants were members of the Framingham Heart Study, had European ancestry and needed a smartphone or a computer. Researchers also did not test the intervention’s effects in nonfamily networks.

    “Our findings suggest that gamification may offer a promising approach to change health behaviors if designed using insights from behavioral economics to enhance social incentives,” the authors conclude.


  6. Study suggests cellphone ownership may increase incidence of cyberbullying in grade school

    October 2, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Academy of Pediatrics press release:

    Most research on cyberbullying has focused on adolescents. But a new study that examined cell phone ownership among children in third to fifth grades finds they may be particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying.

    The study abstract, “Cell Phone Ownership and Cyberbullying in 8-11 Year Olds: New Research,” will be presented Monday, Sept. 18 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

    Researchers collected survey data on 4,584 students in grades 3, 4 and 5 between 2014 and 2016. Overall, 9.5 percent of children reported being a victim of cyberbullying. Children who owned cell phones were significantly more likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying, especially in grades 3 and 4.

    “Parents often cite the benefits of giving their child a cell phone, but our research suggests that giving young children these devices may have unforeseen risks as well,” said Elizabeth K. Englander, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Mass.

    Across all three grades, 49.6 of students reported owning a cell phone. The older the student, the more likely to report cell phone ownership: 59.8 percent of fifth graders, 50.6 percent of fourth graders, and 39.5 percent of third graders reported owning their own cell phone. Cell phone owners in grades three and four were more likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying. Across all three grades, more cell phone owners admitted they have been a cyberbully themselves.

    According to the researchers, the increased risk of cyberbullying related to phone ownership could be tied to increased opportunity and vulnerability. Continuous access to social media and texting increases online interactions, provides more opportunities to engage both positively and negatively with peers, and increases the chance of an impulsive response to peers’ postings and messages.

    Englander suggests that this research is a reminder for parents to consider the risks as well as the benefits when deciding whether to provide their elementary school-aged child with a cell phone.

    “At the very least, parents can engage in discussions and education with their child about the responsibilities inherent in owning a mobile device, and the general rules for communicating in the social sphere,” Englander said.


  7. Study suggests drivers find it harder to ignore a ringing phone than to ignore the risk

    September 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Queensland University of Technology press release:

    Drivers find it difficult to ignore a ringing phone but they do ignore the dangers, with a new QUT study revealing almost 50 per cent believe locating and answering a ringing phone is not as risky as talking and texting.

    The research undertaken by QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety — Queensland (CARRS-Q) and published in the PLOS ONE journal has found locating a ringing phone, checking who is calling, and rejecting or answering the call, is the most frequent mobile phone task undertaken by drivers.

    Lead researcher Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios said drivers did not believe that locating and answering a ringing phone was as risky as talking, texting or browsing.

    “The study of 484 Queensland drivers found 45 per cent admit to locating and answering a ringing phone, compared to 28 per cent who reported speaking on a handheld device.

    “Also concerning is that more drivers reported looking at a screen for more than 2 seconds or locating and answering a ringing phone, than they did talking on a handheld phone, texting or browsing.”

    Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios said when considering the risk of these different mobile phone tasks, most drivers underestimated the distracting dangers of passive phone use.

    Finding and reaching for a ringing phone is perceived by drivers as having a mid-range crash risk, however research has showed that this task is one of the most risky activities a driver can engage in,” he said.

    “This is because drivers are likely to adapt their driving behaviour when talking, texting and browsing, by reducing their speed, increasing their distance from the vehicle in front and scanning their environment more frequently.

    “On the other hand, a ringing mobile phone can occur at any time without giving time for the driver to adapt their behaviour and therefore increases the likelihood of a crash. “This mismatch in perception of risk is a major concern revealed by the study.”

    Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios said using a mobile phone while driving had been shown to increase crash risk four-fold.

    “Novice drivers are particularly at risk as they are more likely to drive while using a mobile phone.”

    Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios said other findings in the study included:

    • Despite the research, 12 per cent drivers still don’t believe talking on a handheld phone is dangerous
    • Drivers actively avoid police detection, with about 70 per cent admitting to being on the lookout for police when using their phone
    • Drivers keep their phones low and cover them to evade police detection
    • On a typical day, drivers are more likely to look at their mobile phone for more than 2 seconds, than they are to text or browse

  8. Study suggests playing smartphone health app aids concussion recovery in teens

    September 1, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center press release:

    Generally, after suffering a concussion, patients are encouraged to avoid reading, watching TV and using mobile devices to help their brains heal. But new research shows that teen-agers who used a mobile health app once a day in conjunction with medical care improved concussion symptoms and optimism more than with standard medical treatment alone.

    Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center collaborated on the study with Jane McGonigal of the Institute for the Future, who developed the mobile health app called SuperBetter after she suffered a concussion.

    Results of the study are published online in the journal Brain Injury.

    The 19 teens who participated in the study received standard of care for concussion symptoms that persisted beyond 3 weeks after the head injury, and the experimental group also used the SuperBetter app as a gamified symptoms journal.

    “We found that mobile apps incorporating social game mechanics and a heroic narrative can complement medical care to improve health among teenagers with unresolved concussion symptoms, said first author Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, a physical rehabilitation specialist who studies movement at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center’s Neurological Institute.

    The American Academy of Neurology recommends limiting cognitive and physical effort and prohibiting sports involvement until a concussed individual is asymptomatic without using medication. However, this level of physical, cognitive and social inactivity represents a lifestyle change with its own risk factors, including social isolation, depression and increased incidence of suicidal ideology, the researchers noted.

    In addition, cognitive rest often involves limiting screen stimulation associated with popular modes of interpersonal interaction, such as text messaging and social networking on digital platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and multiplayer video gaming, thereby blocking common avenues for social connection.

    “Teens who’ve had a concussion are told not to use media or screens, and we wanted to test if it was possible for them to use screens just a little bit each day, and get the bang for the buck with that,” Worthen-Chaudhari said. “The app rewrites things you might be frustrated about as a personal, heroic narrative. So you might start out feeling ‘I’m frustrated. I can’t get rid of this headache,’ and then the app helps reframe that frustration to ‘I battled the headache bad guy today. And I feel good about that hard work’.”

    Concussion symptoms can include a variety of complaints, including headaches, confusion, depression, sleep disturbance, fatigue, irritability, agitation, anxiety, dizziness, difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly, sensitivity to light and noise, and impaired cognitive function.

    Within the SuperBetter app, symptoms were represented as bad guys such as headaches, dizziness or feeling confused, and medical recommendations were represented as power ups, including sleep, sunglasses or an academic concussion management plan. Participants invited allies to join their personal network in the app and they could view their in-app activity and could send resilience points, achievements, comments and personalized emails in response to activity.

    “Since 2005, the rate of reported concussions in high school athletes has doubled, and youth are especially at risk,” said study collaborator Dr. Kelsey Logan, director of the division of sports medicine at Cincinnati Children’s. “Pairing the social, mobile app SuperBetter with traditional medical care appears to improve outcomes and optimism for youth with unresolved concussion symptoms. More study is needed to investigate ways that leveraging interactive media may complement medical care and promote health outcomes among youth with concussion and the general population.”


  9. Signs of distracted driving: Pounding heart, sweaty nose

    August 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Houston press release:

    Distracted driving — texting or absent-mindedness — claims thousands of lives a year. Researchers from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have produced an extensive dataset examining how drivers react to different types of distractions, part of an effort to devise strategies for making driving safer.

    In a paper published Aug. 15 in the journal Scientific Data, the researchers make the dataset publicly available for the first time and describe how they collected the information.

    The study was conducted with 68 volunteers, all of whom had a valid driver’s license and normal or corrected-to-normal vision, on a driving simulator. Drivers were tracked with both thermal and visual cameras, along with palm sensors, sensors to measure heart rate and breathing rate, and an eye tracking system.

    Ioannis Pavlidis, Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor and director of the Computational Physiology Lab at UH, said the study is the first to tackle three types of distracting elementssensorimotor, such as texting; cognitive, such as absorbing thoughts; and emotional distractions.

    Texting, the researchers found, led to far more dangerous driving, while a “sixth sense” appeared to protect those suffering emotional upset or absent-mindedness. Texting interfered with that sixth sense, letting drivers drift out of their traffic lanes. The researchers reported this result in the journal Scientific Reports last year, using a subset of the data they collected.

    Additional investigation showed that “eye tracking and breathing rate proved useful metrics for measuring the impact of texting while driving,” Pavlidis said. “But that wasn’t helpful in cases of emotional or cognitive distractions.” However, he said the researchers found heart rate signals captured via wearable sensors and perinasal perspiration captured via miniature thermal imagers were able to track all forms of distraction — a result that is reported in the current Scientific Data paper.

    That and other findings provide the groundwork for future safety systems, said Robert Wunderlich, director of the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Given the widespread use of smart watches capable of measuring heart rate, he said this result opens the way for universal sensing of all forms of distraction at the consequential source, that is, the driver’s sympathetic system.

    The potential market for interventions is huge. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law banning texting while driving earlier this summer, leaving just three states that have not banned the practice.

    The experiment worked like this: Volunteers drove the same segment of highway four times in a high-fidelity driving simulator — with no distraction and with cognitive, emotional and physical distraction. They were monitored via standoff and wearable sensors, which recorded perspiration, heart rate, breathing rate, gaze and facial expressions to capture the drivers’ state as they were overloaded by multitasking.

    At the same time, the simulator’s computer recorded driving performance variables including speed, acceleration, braking force, steering angle and lane position.

    In addition to Pavlidis, authors on the paper include Panagiotis Tsiamyrtzis of Athens University of Economics and Business, who spearheaded the data analysis and validation; Salah Taamneh and Ashik Khatri of UH; Malcolm Dcosta of Elizabeth City State University; Pradeep Buddharaju of University of Houston-Clear Lake; Michael Manser and Robert Wunderlich of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute; and Thomas Ferris of Texas A&M University.

    Along with the publication of the paper in Scientific Data, the researchers released the full dataset in the Open Science Framework (OSF) databank.

    This experiment represents an emerging form of multimodal design, where an abundance of highly quantitative variables are measured continuously, providing a 360-degree view of the studied conditions. Pavlidis noted that these designs are now possible because of technological advances in wearable and imaging sensors, as well as the emergence of robust computational algorithms.

    The deluge of data such multimodal experiments produce requires sophisticated curation and complete openness, he said, not only for purposes of reproducibility but also as a means to investigate the dataset’s full potential.


  10. Consumers more likely to spend money on guilty pleasures with touchscreen technology

    August 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus press release:

    You are more likely to indulge in guilty pleasures when shopping online with a touchscreen versus a desktop computer, according to research from UBC’s Okanagan campus.

    Studies conducted by Faculty of Management assistant professor Ying Zhu are shedding new light into consumer behaviour when it comes to touchscreen technology, a rapidly increasing sales technology.

    “Touchscreen technology has rapidly penetrated the consumer market and embedded itself into our daily lives. Given its fast growth and popularity, we know surprisingly little about its effect on consumers,” explains Zhu. “With more than two billion smartphone users, the use of tactile technologies for online shopping alone is set to represent nearly half of all e-commerce by next year.”

    To extend our knowledge on the touchscreen, Zhu and her co-author, Jeffrey Meyer, conducted a series of experiments with university students to measure thinking styles and purchase intentions using devices like touchscreens and desktop computers.

    The study aimed to investigate whether online purchase intentions change when it comes to two different types of products: hedonic, or those that give the consumer pleasure like chocolate or massages; and utilitarian, products that are practical, like bread or printers.

    “The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers’ favour of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers’ preference for utilitarian products,” explains Zhu.

    Zhu’s study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on experiential thinking than those using desktop computers. However, those on desktops scored significantly higher on rational thinking.

    “Overall, what we learned is that using a touchscreen evokes consumers’ experiential thinking, which resonates with the playful nature of hedonic products. These results may well be a game-changer for sectors like the retail industry,” says Zhu. “But my advice for consumers who want to save a bit of money is to put away the smartphone when you have urge to spend on a guilty pleasure.”