Home » News » Texting Temptations Outweigh Appropriateness
Texting Temptations Outweigh Appropriateness

Texting Temptations Outweigh Appropriateness

An interesting behavioral transition appears to be occurring among college students as they embrace texting as a go-to communication channel.

Pennsylvania State psychologists have discovered students text while they are in the shower, at a funeral, or even while having sex.

“We have looked at inappropriate texting behavior — texting while driving, for instance — before, but what we wanted to find out is whether the people who are engaging in these forms of behavior even know whether or not it is the right thing to do,” said Dr. Marissa Harrison, an associate professor of psychology.

The researchers suggest that college students are not necessarily trying to create new norms in texting behaviors, but that breaking with these norms is just too tempting for them in most cases. When they receive texts, the temptation to check their texts and send messages back is much greater than the urge to pay attention to their present situation.

In a survey, college students admitted to texting during funerals, in the shower, during sex, and while using the toilet, according to Harrison, who worked with Jessica M. Salley, a graduate student, and Christine E. Bealing, an undergraduate student, both in psychology.

While most participants said they considered texting while taking a shower to be socially unacceptable, more than 34 percent said they did it anyway.

Moreover, most agreed that texting during a religious service or while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was wrong, but more than 22 percent texted during services and about 11 percent said they texted during the pledge.

Approximately 7.4 percent texted while having sex, even though most admitted that it was wrong.

Some behaviors, such as texting in the bathroom, or while eating, are becoming more acceptable for college students.

“Whereas some people may deem this odd, most college students agree that eating and toilet texts are the new normal,” the researchers said.

Harrison believes the forces of natural selection may play a part in creating this behavior. The buzzes and flashing lights of texting devices may signal opportunities or threats that cause people to pay less attention to their present environment and consider the future.

“We are all programmed to notice movement and change, so maybe those buzzes and bells of texting, just like certain sounds that used to indicate the charging of a predator, for example, reinforce the need to find out what is going on,” said Harrison.

For the study, 152 college age students answered a 70-question survey on their attitudes toward texting in various situations and their general texting habits.

The researchers, who released their findings in a recent issue of the Social Science Journal, discovered many of the college students in the survey frequently communicate with texting. In fact, a little more than 34 percent of the participants said they sent and received 100 or more text messages each day.

Harrison said that future research will look at how other age groups, such as high school students, handle the temptation to text when it is inappropriate.

“College students tend to be heavy text users, so it might be interesting to see if this holds up across other groups that may or may not use texting as often,” Harrison said.

Source: Penn State

Texting Temptations Outweigh Appropriateness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Texting Temptations Outweigh Appropriateness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 2 Apr 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.