As someone who regularly got in trouble from neighbors, relatives and teachers for walking while reading, watching people wander around aimlessly while poking at their phones makes me crazy. Particularly when those people who fit into the demographic that has previously been all up in my business about the reading and walking thing. So it is with great pleasure that I tell you all, you really suck at walking and texting.
The researchers essentially corralled 30 participants to walk through an obstacle course. First, the participants just walked normally — no mention of if the participants did or did not chew gum. Wait, do you want to see the obstacle course? We can help with that.
So having tested that all the participants can actually walk the obstacle course, the real test begins. The participants were asked to walk the course first, while texting and then while texting and doing math. We are not really sure why the researchers decided that the participants should do math as a part of the test.
So are you on the edge of your seat in anticipation?
Turns out, these 30 people really suck at walking and texting at the same time. Would like to see that in graph form?
Interestingly, texting, walking and doing math was no worse than simply texting and walking. It may have even been a little better to make the participants simultaneously text and do math. Weird. Given that this is the most interesting result of the study to a layperson, you’d think the researchers may have commented on why the additional burden of doing math doesn’t increase the difficulty of the course, but you’d be wrong.
Our hypothesis? By the time the test subjects walked the obstacle course for the third time, they were pretty clear on what they were going to encounter and were able to compensate for the added burden of having to do math while they wandered around staring at their tiny screens.
Oh. Awkward. Looks like the test subjects might actually suck even more at texting and walking than this study shows.
S. Licence, R. Smith, M. McGuigan, C. Earnest, “Gait Pattern Alterations during Walking, Texting and Walking and Texting during Cognitively Distractive Tasks while Negotiating Common Pedestrian Obstacles,” PLOS-One, July 29, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133281 ↩