Too smart for our own good

LIHUE — Lawai resident Ross Konishi said people have become so reliant on smartphones, “they barely have time to think.”

You ever see anyone wear a watch anymore? Only the older generation still has it, he said. “A lot of the older generations, when they needed to solve a math problem they would take out their pen and their notebook and write, but a lot of people now a days, they just take out their phone, calculator, put it in and they don’t have to think at all. They don’t learn.”

A study in the scientific journal, Computers in Human Behavior, conducted at the University of Waterloo in Canada, predicted that individuals who abandon analytical thinking for a faster and easier solution by using their smartphones may be lowering their intelligence.

The study indicated that intuitive thinkers use their smartphones to look up information frequently while analytical thinkers use their brains.

They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it, said study co-lead author Gordon Pennycook, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo, in a university news release.

Some on Kauai agreed.

“I’ve seen people locked into their cellphones,” said Kilauea’s Tom Cullen. “I like to read books, I like to use my laptop, when I’m not, I want to observe and be around other people. Human contact is important.”

Kapaa resident Aaron Salvador, however, said just because a person may be reliant on their cellphone, it doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent.

“It all depends on how you use it,” said Salvador, who indicated that laziness isn’t the same as stupidity. “It’s easier to look up an answer say if you’re taking a test in college, it’s easier to look up an answer you’re not familiar with or you don’t know rather than actually studying for it.”

Puhi resident Karen Garcia said smartphones can interfere with the simple things in life.

“People with smartphones are usually constantly on top of it,” Garcia said. “I work in a restaurant and most of my customers would rather be on their smartphones instead of socializing in person.”

The university analyzed the thinking patterns of 660 smartphone users, comparing analytical and intuitive thinkers.

Although intuitive people use their own feelings to make decisions, analytical people use more logic and knowledge, the study found.

Our reliance on smartphones and other devices will likely only continue to rise, said Nathaniel Barr, co-author of Computers in Human Behavior. “Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind.


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