Researchers sent the subject messages asking them about their current desires. The subjects would then detail them, along with the strength of the desire (up to irresistible) in a message back. In all, 7,827 desire reports were logged.
The results of the study may be surprising.
“Desires for sleep and sex were experienced most intensively, whereas desires for tobacco and alcohol had the lowest average strength,” according to the study’s abstract.
Meanwhile, “desires for media use and work brought about the most self-control failure,” suggesting that we really can’t help ourselves when it comes to checking our news feeds and social media updates.
Head researcher Wilhelm Hofman told The Guardian that the availability and short time commitment probably contributed social media’s prevalence, as well as the fact that it doesn’t come with the implied costs of other vices.
“With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one,” said Hofman. “So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”
Meanwhile, a report by online security app maker Lookout found that 60 per cent of Americans couldn’t go for an hour without checking their phones. When they misplaced their phones, 73 per cent said they felt “panicked,” while 14 per cent said they felt “desperate.”