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Published July 05 2013

Benshoof: Mobile phones making us weak? Go big or go home

If you’ve ever used your mobile device to help you get street directions, you may have caught yourself asking, “What did we do before smartphones?”

According to results of a Harvard Business School study released last week, it turns out we were a lot more confident before cellphones took up permanent residency in our pockets.

The study included 75 participants, who each performed a task on devices with screens of different sizes, including an iPod Touch, an iPad, a MacBook Pro and an iMac.

Once the participants finished their task, they were instructed to go find the researchers in their office to receive their pay if the researcher hadn’t returned in five minutes.

The study found that the participants using the device with the largest screen – the iMac – waited the shortest amount of time before going to go get the researcher. The iMac users were, essentially, the most assertive of the bunch.

They were followed by users of the MacBook Pro, the iPad and the iPod touch – also the descending order of the devices’ screen size. The smaller a person’s screen, the longer they waited.

The basic idea at the heart of the study is that our body language affects our confidence and assertiveness. If we’re sitting back instead of hunched over, we’ll probably feel a little bit more powerful.

Unfortunately, with everyone owning a smartphone these days, we’re more likely to be hunched over our phone most of the time – which makes us weaker.

Apparently mom was right when she told you to sit up straight and stop slouching.

So what can we do to reverse this troubling trend of assertive decay?

One option, obviously, is to put away our phones. We survived, somehow, without them before, and we can survive without them again.

But let’s be real – that’s not the American way.

Instead, our solution should be to go as big as possible. Upgrade your devices so you have the models with the largest possible screen.

You may look like a big tool when using your new big tool, but nobody will be able to accuse you of being weak.

Indeed, I’ll pass on your 4-inch iPhone 5 screen, thank you very much. Instead, give me the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, with its whopping 6.4 inches of screen size.

Sure, your iMac is big, with its 21.5-inch display. But it’s nothing compared to the 50-inch Samsung P50HP plasma display I can get for my PC.

I’ll certainly be feeling confident with a computer screen that measures more than 4 feet across.

Those chumps with the tiny devices won’t know what hit them.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535.