• Effects of Withholding Cell Phones on Students' Autonomic Arousal, State Anxiety, and Test Scores

      Recinos, Manderley; Streets, Hannah; Gaffney, Jasmine; Department of Psychological Sciences; Johnson, Michelle; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
      Approximately 85% of Americans aged 18-29 have smartphones. Many people report that they get agitated when their phones are not immediately accessible.Researchers studying the links between phone use and academic performance have focused on their disruptive nature (e.g., texting). No research has examined the effects of withholding phones during testing on test performance. The objective of this study was to assess whether withholding phones during testing affected students state anxiety, skin conductance (SC), and test scores. State anxiety is situationally determined, transitory, and associated with autonomic nervous system activation. SC (sweat gland secretions) is an index of sympathetic nervous system activation. We expected higher levels of self-reported state anxiety, higher levels of SC, and lower test performance among students who had their phones withheld compared with students who kept their phones. Eighty-six students participated. There were three conditions: phones withheld but kept in the same room as testing condition (n= 31), phones withheld but sequestered in a different room (n= 28), and control where students were not separated from their phones (n= 27). One-way MANOVA revealed no differences between the groups in state anxiety, SC or test scores. Data did reveal interesting trends we would like to discuss.