Do you have ‘ringxiety’? Anxious loners hear phantom phone calls
Psychologists believe that people who are insecure about their friendships are more likely to hear phantom ringtones or text messages
Published 05/02/2016 | 11:30
If you find yourself reaching to answer your phone only to find that it had never rang you could be suffering from ‘ringxiety’, according to academics.
Psychologists believe that people who are insecure about their friendships or crave company may start to hear phantom ringtones, notifications or the vibration of non-existent messages.
It is the latest disorder to affect a generation addicted to technology who crave constant contact and affirmation.
Dr Daniel Kruger and Jaikob Djerf of the University of Michigan, compared the frequency of phantom ringing and notifications among 411 volunteers who had either attachment anxiety - worries about being abandoned or their feelings not being reciprocated - or attachment avoidance - keeping distance from partners.
Eight in 10 said they had experience phantom vibrations while almost half said they had ‘heard’ ringing.
Individuals who scored higher in attachment anxiety were up to 18 per cent more likely to experience phantom ringing and notifications.
“Mobile cell phone users have reported experiencing ringing and/or vibrations associated with incoming calls and messages, only to find that no call or message had actually registered,” said Dr Kruger.
“Phantom ringing and phantom notifications in one sample were significantly predicted by attachment anxiety.”
The new study was published in the journal Cyberspychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.
"There is a growing awareness that ringxiety may result in both immediate and longer term negative health effects, including headache, stress, and sleep disturbances," said the journal’s Editor-in-Chief Dr Brenda Wiederhold.
Last month Georgia Tech University published work suggesting that nine out of 10 people now suffer from ‘phantom vibration syndrome’ where we mistake tiny muscle spasms for incoming text messages.
Assistant professor Robert Rosenberger, said sufferers describe a vague tingling feeling which they think is their mobile phone indicating it has received a text message or call while on ‘silent’.
Dr Rosenberger said: "I find so many people say, 'This happens to me, but I thought I was the only one, I thought I was weird.’
"It’s not actually a syndrome in a technical sense. That’s just the name that’s got stuck to it."
He added: "Only two per cent of people consider it a problem."
While widespread, the scientific community has not yet got to the bottom of why people suffer phantom calls.
Dr Rosenberger said: ‘People are guessing it has something to do with nervous energy.
"We have a phone call in our pocket all the time and it becomes sort of an extension of ourselves.
"We have this sort of readiness to experience a call. We feel something and we think, OK, that could be a call."
A 2010 study by Michael Rothberg and colleagues found that nearly 70 per cent of doctors at a hospital in Massachusetts suffered phantom vibrations.
A more recent study of US college students found the figure was as high as 90 per cent.