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科学美国人60秒:不看手机就不会分心了?

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Shayla Love: This is Scientific American's 60-Second Science. I'm Shayla Love.

这里是《科学美国人》的60秒科学。我是谢拉·勒夫。

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You're trying to get some work done, and you find yourself continually picking up your cell phone. In frustration, you might slam the phone down beside you and swear to leave it alone—theoretically allowing you to focus on what you're doing.

你正尝试完成一些工作,却发现自己一次又一次拿起手机,然后懊悔自己无法专心致志,然后把手机扔在一旁,并暗暗发誓再也不碰它,因为理论上这么做能让自己专注于手头的正经事:你是否有过上述的经历?

Right now my phone is sitting next to me untouched. But have I really protected myself from its distractions or its ability to impact my mind? The answer is no, according to a well-known study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research from 2017 entitled “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One's Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.”

我的手机现在就在我手边,我一直没动过它,但我真就因此没有被它干扰吗?我真的挣脱了它对我思想的影响了吗?根据2017年《消费者研究协会杂志》(Journal of the Association for Consumer Research)上的一项著名研究,答案是否定的,这项研究的标题为“认知流失:自己的智能手机仅仅只是静静地在那儿,也会降低可用的认知能力”(Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity)。

Cognitive and social psychologist Adrian Ward and his colleagues proposed the “brain drain hypothesis” by showing that just having a phone next to you could impact cognition—specifically, working memory, or the mental system that helps us hold information about what we're currently doing at a given moment.

认知与社会心理学家阿德里安·沃德(Adrian Ward)和同事提出了“认知流失假说”(brain drain hypothesis),证明只要把手机放在身边就会影响你的认知,特别是工作记忆(working memory),也就是帮助我们在特定时刻掌握当前所做之事相关信息的认知系统。

Ward: The way we measure it is by having people remember words and solve math problems at the same time. And the idea there is that those are two very different cognitive skills, word memory and math problems, but they're tapping into that same general cognitive resource.

我们对工作记忆的衡量方法是让人们同时记住单词并解决数学问题。当初之所以这么设计实验,是因为单词记忆和解决数学问题是两种截然不同的认知技能,但它们正在利用相同的综合认知资源。

Love: In those experiments, people either had their phones on a desk, in their pockets or bags, or in the next room. The farther away a person's phone was, the better they did on those tasks.

实验中,人们要么把手机放在桌子上、口袋或包包里,要么放在隔壁房间。一个人离他们的手机越远,在这些任务上的表现就越好。

Ward: Even when you're not consciously thinking about your phone, the process of not thinking about your phone requires some cognitive resources.

即使你没有刻意想着你的手机,不去想手机也会消耗一些认知资源。

Love: This was an intriguing, though slightly concerning, finding that triggered more studies on how the presence of our smartphones might be influencing how well we're able to think. But in a new meta-analysis that looked at data from 27 different brain drain studies, the story of the brain drain hypothesis has gotten a little more complicated.

这是一个有趣但有点令人担忧的发现,它引发了更多关于智能手机的存在如何影响我们思考能力的研究。但在一项新的荟萃分析(Meta-analysis)中,研究人员对27项不同“认知流失”研究的数据进行了分析,发现认知流失假说的故事变得更复杂了一些。

Doug Parry: If it's just sitting next to you while you're working, is that a problem or not? And I think that's quite an important question to answer, to know more about.

如果它只是在你工作时待在你身边,这会有问题吗?我认为这是一个非常重要的问题,需要回答,需要了解更多。

Love: That's Doug Parry, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University, who studies socioinformatics and who did the meta-analysis—a study in which data from multiple published papers are combined together and reanalyzed.

道格·帕里,南非斯泰伦博斯大学(Stellenbosch University)的讲师。帕里的研究领域是社会信息学,他是这项新荟萃分析的作者。荟萃分析是一种将来自多篇已发表论文的数据汇聚在一起并重新分析的研究方法。

Parry became interested in brain drain first from studying multitasking and then from investigating something called “online vigilance…”

在研究多任务处理时,帕里对认知流失产生了兴趣,然后开始调查一种名为“在线警惕”(online vigilance)的东西...

Parry: …which is essentially this idea that we're constantly aware of the online world, the mobile world around us. We're thinking, we're ruminating about, you know, the news cycle, the—our friends and family that we can connect to through our—through our phone, and so on.

本质上就是我们不断地想知道网络世界、我们周围的移动电子世界发生了什么。我们在思考,我们在反复思虑,包括不断报道的新闻、可以通过我们的手机联系到的朋友和家人等等。

Love: Parry's work on online vigilance led him to wonder how strong brain drain's effects really are.

对在线警惕进行了一定的研究后,帕里开始思考认知流失的影响到底有多大。

Parry: I saw that there's a need to kind of bring together the sort of 20 to 30 studies that have been conducted over the last—it's about seven or eight years—on this phenomenon and see across the studies “What do we actually know about the so-called brain drain hypothesis?” and, that is, “It's a meaningful effect? Is it a consistent effect?”

我认为有必要将过去大约七八年间针对这种现象进行的20~30项研究汇总起来,对所有研究进行梳理,解决下面的问题:“关于所谓的认知流失假说我们实际上了解些什么?”以及“这是一个有意义的效应吗?是一种一致的影响吗?”

Love: Past studies on brain drain looked primarily at five cognitive functions: working memory, sustained attention, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and fluid intelligence. Parry lumped together data for each of these functions individually and then did a sixth analysis where he looked at all the results together. In the end, he looked at 56 effect sizes on how phones affect our minds from 27 studies in 25 publications.

过去关于认知流失的研究主要关注5种认知功能:工作记忆、持续性注意力(sustained attention)、抑制控制(inhibitory control)、认知灵活性(cognitive flexibility)和流体智力(fluid intelligence)。帕里将每种功能的数据集中在一起单独进行分析,然后再把所有结果放在一起进行第六次分析,最后,他从25本期刊的27篇论文中选取了56个关于手机如何影响我们思想的规模效应进行研究。

Parry: So looking at the five separate analyses–of the five, the only statistically significant result was for working memory.

让我们看看5种认知功能的独立分析:5个分析中唯一具有统计学意义结果的是工作记忆。

Parry: Whereas for the other four cognitive functions, no statistically significant effects of the presence of a smartphone were found across the various effects included in those analyses. And that is somewhat consistent with Ward and colleagues. So they found a negative effect for working memory, but they didn't find a negative effect for sustained attention.

对于其他4种认知功能,在这些分析所包含的各种影响中,我们没有发现智能手机的存在具有统计学意义的影响,这与沃德和他的同事的观点比较一致,他们发现手机的存在对工作记忆有负面影响,但没有发现它对持续性注意力有负面影响。

Love: Though it is similar to what Ward found, Parry's analysis also revealed the impact on working memory was much smaller than initial studies indicated.

虽然与沃德的发现相似,但帕里的分析还表明,它对工作记忆的影响比最初研究所表明的要小得多。

Parry: I think the important difference here with this meta-analysis, compared to the Ward 2017 paper, is the magnitude of the effect.

与沃德2017年的论文相比,我认为这项荟萃分析的重要区别在于影响的大小。

Love: This matters because it can tell us whether our phones are completely diverting our attention by their mere presence or simply affecting one aspect of our cognition slightly.

这很重要,因为它可以告诉我们手机是否仅仅因为它们的存在而完全转移了我们的注意力,又或者只是对我们认知的某一个方面产生了轻微的影响。

Parry: A massive, massive effect: we would all be distracted all the time. And a very, very tiny effect: it would be meaningless. And this is somewhere in between. But it is a smaller effect than the earlier research has shown.

如果是产生了巨大的影响,就表示我们所有人都会处于持续的分心状态,但如果只是非常非常微小的影响,它就是毫无意义的。结果介于这两者之间,但比早期研究显示的影响要小。

Love: Parry's meta-analysis is a preprint, which means that it hasn't been peer-reviewed yet. When I talked to Ward about that paper's findings, he said he was glad there's now been enough work on brain drain to look at evidence combined together and that, overall, Parry's work reinforces the notion that phones are interfering with our working memory over other cognitive functions such as sustained attention—or what you're paying attention to consciously.

帕里的荟萃分析已在预印本平台发布,这意味着它还没有经过同行评审。当与沃德谈论这篇论文的发现时,他说他很高兴现在已经有足够多关于认知流失的研究来进行相关证据整合,而且总的来说,帕里的工作强化了这样一种观念:手机会干扰我们的工作记忆,但对其他认知没有显著影响,比如持续性注意力,也就是有意识地持续关注某件事。

Ward: When you're doing great at sustained attention, you know, you're thinking you're doing awesome because you're not looking at your phone. It's on the desk in front of you, but you're not paying attention to it, right? And so that's showing us no difference in sustained attention. But that process of not paying attention to it is using some of your working memory capacity. So that shows up as that significant, significant negative effect on working memory capacity.

当你在持续性注意力方面做得很好时,你会认为自己做得很棒,因为你没有关注你的手机,它就在你面前的桌子上,但你没有注意它,对吧?因此,这表明我们在持续性注意力方面没有被影响。但是,不去注意它的过程使用到了你的一些工作记忆容量,因此,这表明手机的存在对工作记忆容量有显著的负面影响。

Love: Parry thinks that his findings actually raise more questions for further study, such as whether there's something about the individuals in the past studies that led to a stronger brain drain effect for certain cognitive effects. For instance, for some people, their phones might be more important to them.

帕里认为他的发现实际上提出了更多须要进一步研究的问题,例如过去研究中的个体是否存在导致某些认知能力的认知流失效应更强的影响因素,例如,对于某些人来说,他们的手机可能对更为重要。

Parry: If you're very involved, and your whole life is mediated through that, the way you're orientated to its presence is going to be different.

如果你离不开手机,你的整个生活都与之相关联,那么你对手机的定位方式也会不一样。

Love: Another factor could be how susceptible a person is to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. There is an official psychologically validated scale for FOMO from 2013 that Parry says could be used alongside measuring brain drain to see if that influences the effect.

另一个因素可能是一个人对FOMO的敏感程度,也就是害怕错过(fear of missing out)。2013年发布了一个针对FOMO的官方心理验证量表,帕里表示可以将其与认知流失测试连用,看看是否会对结果产生影响。

Ward: The reality is like, “We're not going to get rid of our phones. They're going to be around, and [we're] probably going to become even more dependent on them over time.” Like, I just had a kid, and I track every time this kid has a diaper on my phone, right? Like, my whole life is recorded in this little device. They are just woven into every aspect of our lives.

现实就像是:“我们不会完全脱离手机,手机会在我们身边,随着时间的推移,我们可能会变得更加依赖手机。”比方说我刚生了一个孩子,我会用手机记录每一次给宝宝换尿不湿的时间,对吧?我的一生可能都记录在这台小设备里了,它融入了我们生活的方方面面。

Love: Knowing that the presence of a phone influences working memory could lead to having more targeted technology harm reduction, or keeping an eye out for that specific effect.

手机的存在会影响工作记忆这一结论,可能会带来更有针对性的降低危害的技术,或者能让科学家密切关注这种特定影响。

In the end, this meta-analysis indicates we might not have to be super distressed about what a phone in our vicinity is doing to us. For some people, there still could be a significant brain drain, but for others, it could be more of a drip.

最后,这项荟萃分析表明,我们可能不必那么苦恼眼前的手机对我们造成的影响,对一些人来说,认知流失仍然很严重,但对其他人来说,可能也就流失了一丢丢而已。

Thanks for listening! For 60-Second Science, I'm Shayla Love.

感谢收听《科学美国人》的60秒科学。谢拉·勒夫报道。

Shayla Love: This is Scientific American's 60-Second Science. I'm Shayla Love.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You're trying to get some work done, and you find yourself continually picking up your cell phone. In frustration, you might slam the phone down beside you and swear to leave it alone—theoretically allowing you to focus on what you're doing.

Right now my phone is sitting next to me untouched. But have I really protected myself from its distractions or its ability to impact my mind? The answer is no, according to a well-known study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research from 2017 entitled “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One's Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.”

Cognitive and social psychologist Adrian Ward and his colleagues proposed the “brain drain hypothesis” by showing that just having a phone next to you could impact cognition—specifically, working memory, or the mental system that helps us hold information about what we're currently doing at a given moment.

Ward: The way we measure it is by having people remember words and solve math problems at the same time. And the idea there is that those are two very different cognitive skills, word memory and math problems, but they're tapping into that same general cognitive resource.

Love: In those experiments, people either had their phones on a desk, in their pockets or bags, or in the next room. The farther away a person's phone was, the better they did on those tasks.

Ward: Even when you're not consciously thinking about your phone, the process of not thinking about your phone requires some cognitive resources.

Love: This was an intriguing, though slightly concerning, finding that triggered more studies on how the presence of our smartphones might be influencing how well we're able to think. But in a new meta-analysis that looked at data from 27 different brain drain studies, the story of the brain drain hypothesis has gotten a little more complicated.

Doug Parry: If it's just sitting next to you while you're working, is that a problem or not? And I think that's quite an important question to answer, to know more about.

Love: That's Doug Parry, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University, who studies socioinformatics and who did the meta-analysis—a study in which data from multiple published papers are combined together and reanalyzed.

Parry became interested in brain drain first from studying multitasking and then from investigating something called “online vigilance…”

Parry: …which is essentially this idea that we're constantly aware of the online world, the mobile world around us. We're thinking, we're ruminating about, you know, the news cycle, the—our friends and family that we can connect to through our—through our phone, and so on.

Love: Parry's work on online vigilance led him to wonder how strong brain drain's effects really are.

Parry: I saw that there's a need to kind of bring together the sort of 20 to 30 studies that have been conducted over the last—it's about seven or eight years—on this phenomenon and see across the studies “What do we actually know about the so-called brain drain hypothesis?” and, that is, “It's a meaningful effect? Is it a consistent effect?”

Love: Past studies on brain drain looked primarily at five cognitive functions: working memory, sustained attention, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and fluid intelligence. Parry lumped together data for each of these functions individually and then did a sixth analysis where he looked at all the results together. In the end, he looked at 56 effect sizes on how phones affect our minds from 27 studies in 25 publications.

Parry: So looking at the five separate analyses–of the five, the only statistically significant result was for working memory.

Parry: Whereas for the other four cognitive functions, no statistically significant effects of the presence of a smartphone were found across the various effects included in those analyses. And that is somewhat consistent with Ward and colleagues. So they found a negative effect for working memory, but they didn't find a negative effect for sustained attention.

Love: Though it is similar to what Ward found, Parry's analysis also revealed the impact on working memory was much smaller than initial studies indicated.

Parry: I think the important difference here with this meta-analysis, compared to the Ward 2017 paper, is the magnitude of the effect.

Love: This matters because it can tell us whether our phones are completely diverting our attention by their mere presence or simply affecting one aspect of our cognition slightly.

Parry: A massive, massive effect: we would all be distracted all the time. And a very, very tiny effect: it would be meaningless. And this is somewhere in between. But it is a smaller effect than the earlier research has shown.

Love: Parry's meta-analysis is a preprint, which means that it hasn't been peer-reviewed yet. When I talked to Ward about that paper's findings, he said he was glad there's now been enough work on brain drain to look at evidence combined together and that, overall, Parry's work reinforces the notion that phones are interfering with our working memory over other cognitive functions such as sustained attention—or what you're paying attention to consciously.

Ward: When you're doing great at sustained attention, you know, you're thinking you're doing awesome because you're not looking at your phone. It's on the desk in front of you, but you're not paying attention to it, right? And so that's showing us no difference in sustained attention. But that process of not paying attention to it is using some of your working memory capacity. So that shows up as that significant, significant negative effect on working memory capacity.

Love: Parry thinks that his findings actually raise more questions for further study, such as whether there's something about the individuals in the past studies that led to a stronger brain drain effect for certain cognitive effects. For instance, for some people, their phones might be more important to them.

Parry: If you're very involved, and your whole life is mediated through that, the way you're orientated to its presence is going to be different.

Love: Another factor could be how susceptible a person is to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. There is an official psychologically validated scale for FOMO from 2013 that Parry says could be used alongside measuring brain drain to see if that influences the effect.

Ward: The reality is like, “We're not going to get rid of our phones. They're going to be around, and [we're] probably going to become even more dependent on them over time.” Like, I just had a kid, and I track every time this kid has a diaper on my phone, right? Like, my whole life is recorded in this little device. They are just woven into every aspect of our lives.

Love: Knowing that the presence of a phone influences working memory could lead to having more targeted technology harm reduction, or keeping an eye out for that specific effect.

In the end, this meta-analysis indicates we might not have to be super distressed about what a phone in our vicinity is doing to us. For some people, there still could be a significant brain drain, but for others, it could be more of a drip.

Thanks for listening! For 60-Second Science, I'm Shayla Love.


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