A little after sunset, as I walked towards downtown Denver, I mulled over something I’d just read.
Earlier, I had been rummaging through the internet on a fact-finding mission. During the clicks through article after article, I had stumbled upon some information about a study measuring distraction during work.
From what I remembered, if your computer screen signals an unread email, it will distract you enough to effectively lower your IQ 10 points. Or something like that.
As I passed Colfax Ave, I imagined visiting a friend of mine, whose computer monitor is saturated with notifications. At the bottom of the screen, there’s even a row of the most popular messenger apps, like some sort of police lineup.
One is a little yellow dude who bounces up and down when an unread message awaits the user.
It actually bounces up and down! And still haunts me to this day.
“That right there… is lowering your IQ 10 points!” I’d declare, while pointing a finger at the jumping figure.
As I walked, I figured I couldn’t visit his office anytime soon. But I could write a blog post about it!
So I sauntered home and searched online for the original research, prepping to publish this pithy post.
Within a few minutes, I discovered this was yet another example of the eyeball-strumpet media jumping on a tiny study and outright lying about it.
According to some of the largest online media toilets, in 80 (!) clinical trials, “… the IQ of workers who tried to juggle e-mail messages and other work fell by 10 points – more than double the four-point fall seen after smoking pot, and about equal to missing a full night’s sleep.”
Lies. All lies that got passed around like a bong.
Here’s the real account straight from Dr. Glenn Wilson, who supervised the study (once you’re on that page, click on the link within the phrase “Infomania experiment for HP”).
It was a pilot study involving a grand total of 8 people… and no marijuana (next time, maybe?).
But it still indicates an environment of incoming calls and emails can distract you enough to temporarily lower your score on an IQ-like test. Even without 80 clinical trials supporting this idea, I believe the gist is true.
Something worth pondering if you’ve got an email tab open while you work. Or the next time you read a news headline you think isn’t bullshit.