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Emails ‘pose threat to IQ’

Emails ‘pose threat to IQ’

The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers.

Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached “startling” levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip.

Respondents’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges every time an email dropped into their inbox. Productivity at work was damaged and the effect on staff who could not resist trying to juggle new messages with existing work was the equivalent, over a day, to the loss of a night’s sleep.

“This is a very real and widespread phenomenon,” said Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist from King’s College, London University, who carried out 80 clinical trials for TNS research, commissioned by the IT firm Hewlett Packard. The average IQ loss was measured at 10 points, more than double the four point mean fall found in studies of cannabis users.

As with any research commissioned by a company and performed by another company without peer-review, these results are a little suspect. They may make great headlines, but I doubt they hold much truth to them.

Nonetheless, there is some validity to research of this kind. Survey research is the weakest kind of research you can perform, but it is often done to measure online behaviors (because it is so easy and cost-effective to do so). So this may be an interesting start to looking at how much distraction really affects the modern day worker and person in their private lives.

Emails ‘pose threat to IQ’

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Emails ‘pose threat to IQ’. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/emails-pose-threat-to-iq/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.