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New Study Links Cell Phone Usage While Driving With Psychopathy

Not only is using your cell phone while driving dangerous, it could also suggest something quite dark about your personality. A new study from Germany suggests a possible link between excessive cell phone usage while driving and psychopathic behavior. Problematic Smartphone Use The study (seen here) explores a number of possible factors behind "problematic smartphone use" (PSU), along with smartphone use while driving (SUWD). The study defines PSU as "the excessive use of smartphones, which negatively impacts various areas of life such as work, school, or social interactions." Using a sample base of 1,000 drivers interviewed, 61% of them admitted to problematic use of their phone while on the road. This includes calling, texting, and scrolling through various apps while the car is in motion. The Dark Triad And Other Psychological Factors The study found a small but discernible link between excessive phone use behind the wheel and the concept known as FOMO, or fear of missing out. As one of the study's authors notes, "...a person with higher levels of PSU will more likely use their phone when driving (e.g., to reduce boredom)." Along with FOMO, the study found a positive correlation between SUWD behavior and the Dark Triad. Interestingly enough, the Dark Triad was used recently in a similar study linking the love of excessively loud cars with psychopathy. Likewise, new research has found that people with Dark Triad personalities (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) tend to use their phones most often while driving. "The higher a person scores on Machiavellianism, the more likely they try to use their phone as inconspicuously as possible so that others cannot see it," notes one of the authors. The study also found that psychopathy is generally a fair predictor of traffic offenses overall. How To Reduce Cell Phone Usage While Driving As the study notes, efforts to reduce SUWD behaviors has unfortunately proven inadequate over time, but there may be hope for change with these new findings. The authors behind the study believe that the data found can "...contribute from a theoretical and practical perspective by pointing out the relevance of PSU and the Dark Triad personality traits to explain SUWD." In the conclusion on cell phone usage while driving, it is recommended that PSU should be targeted through the use of public safety interventions, driving training, and court-mandated medical-psychological assessments.

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