Wednesday Trivia: Overheard Cell Phone Chatter

March 20, 2013 | By | Comments (2)

Woman on Cell Phone

When you’re on a train or a bus, which would you prefer: Overhearing one side of your seatmate’s cell phone conversation, or two sides of a face-to-face chat?

Most people would rather hear the in-person conversation. Two new studies shed light on the reason why. First, a study in the journal Behavior & Information Technology reveals that people speak louder on their cell phones—by a significant 1.90 decibels. Talk about grating! And in a study recently published in the journal Plos One, researchers discovered that cell phone conversations are really distracting. The study authors asked participants to complete a task involving anagrams. As the participants worked on it, the study authors either carried out a conversation with one another in the room—or just one author carried out half of a conversation on a phone. Participants stuck listening to the phone call rated the background noise as extremely distracting, while people who heard the face-to-face chat were just mildly peeved. What’s more, the people in the “cell phone” room had more errors on their tests, and remembered more of what was discussed in the overheard chat.

So what should you if you’re trying to work or read (or sleep!) and someone nearby won’t stop gabbing on his iPhone? We’ve got the right words to say right here.


  1. Lorie

    I love listening to other people’s cell phone conversations. To me, it’s more entertaining than hearing it person-to person. There is something interesting about the mystique of the unseen person. And you can tell so much about a person from listening to them talking. What can I say? I am easily entertained.

    March 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm
  2. Julia Edelstein

    How funny, Lorie! I usually find that it depends on the topic.

    March 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s