Email Share Share on Facebook Whether you are alerted to an incoming phone call or text by a trendy ringtone, an alarm bell or a quiet vibration, just receiving a notification on your cell phone can cause enough of a distraction to impair your ability to focus on a given task, according to a new Florida State University study.In fact, the distraction caused by a simple notification — whether it is a sound or a vibration — is comparable to the effects seen when users actively use their cell phones to make calls or send text messages, the researchers found.“The level of how much it affected the task at hand was really shocking,” said Courtney Yehnert, an FSU research coordinator who worked on the study as an undergraduate student before graduating in 2014. Pinterest Share on Twitter LinkedIn The study, “The Attentional Cost of Receiving a Cell Notification,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Psychology doctoral student Cary Stothart is the lead author of the study, and his co-authors are former FSU postdoctoral researcher Ainsley Mitchum and Yehnert. This is the first study to examine the effect of cell phone notifications on performance.“Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “Cellular phone notifications alone significantly disrupt performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants do not directly interact with a mobile device during the task.”It’s well documented that using a mobile phone while performing another task is associated with poorer performance. That’s because people have limited capacity for attention that must be split between tasks, the researchers explained. The Florida State study underscores that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same effect.The researchers’ findings are significant because many public information campaigns intended to deter problematic cell phone use — while driving, for example — often emphasize waiting to respond to messages and calls. However, even waiting may take a toll on attention, according to the researchers. Simply remembering to perform some action in the future is sufficient to disrupt performance on an unrelated concurrent task.To conduct the study, the researchers compared the performance of participants on an attention-demanding computer task, which was divided into two parts. In the first part, participants were asked simply to complete the task. During the second part, although they were not aware of it, participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: call, text or no notification. Automated calls and texts were then sent to the personal phones of participants in the first two groups without their knowledge that the notifications were coming from the researchers.Overall, the researchers found that participants who received notifications made more mistakes on the computer task than those who didn’t. In fact, the increase in the probability of making a mistake was more than three times greater for those who received notifications. Those who received phone call notifications fared worse on the task than those who received a text alert.The researchers then compared their results to the findings of other studies that explored the impact that actually using a cell phone had on attention performance. They found their results were similar, suggesting that receiving a notification but not responding is as distracting as actually answering the phone or replying to a text.Although the FSU study did not involve driving, the results are relevant to the problem of distracted driving, the researchers said.“Even a slight distraction can have severe, potentially life-threatening effects if that distraction occurs at the wrong time,” Stothart said. “When driving, it’s impossible to know when ‘the wrong time’ will occur. Our results suggest that it is safest for people to mute or turn off their phones and put them out of sight while driving.”The researchers plan to follow this study with another that examines cell phone notification distraction while participants are given a driving test on a simulator.
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GERMANY: Deutsche Bahn has resumed acceptance of ICE 4 trainsets with immediate effect, Siemens Mobility and Bombardier Transportation announced on July 17. The national operator had stopped accepting delivery of further ICE4 trainsets in April after Bombardier’s quality management procedures determined that some coach body welds had not been carried out as prescribed. DB said the trainsets were safe and there would be no impact on customers, but the steel bodyshells did not meet the contractually-agreed standards and this could lead to higher long-term maintenance requirements. The suppliers, operator and railway safety authority EBA have now reached an agreement on the reworking and testing of the defective welds, which will be carried out by Bombardier under warranty between early 2020 and mid-2023. This is not expected to affect passenger services. Siemens Mobility is the general contractor for the ICE4 fleet under a framework contract awarded in May 2011. Subcontractor Bombardier is responsible around 30% of the overall project including the delivery of all painted bodyshells, the inside-framed bogies and the assembly of three types of car, including the driving vehicles. According to the manufacturers, five more trainsets are now ready for acceptance, which will bring DB’s operational fleet up to 30 sets.