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The fascinating reason you feel your phone vibrating when it isn’t

Phantom vibration syndrome is a very real thing, and it turns out it could be indicative of a deeper psychological issue *gasps*.

You know that feeling when you swear to God your phone just buzzed, but when you take it out of your pocket, there are no notifications to be found?

That’s phantom vibration syndrome (PVS) aka ringxiety aka fauxellarm aka phantom ringing (there are a crazy amount of synonyms for what is an incredibly obscure phenomenon).

The sensation is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not technically a syndrome, but rather, a tactile hallucination.

But specifics aside, PVS is very common – experienced by 90% of college undergraduates according to one study, so chances are you know what I’m on about.

What causes the phantom buzz?

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan have uncovered what they think is a major cause of PVS.

After gathering 411 students, they found that those with ‘attachment anxiety’ (people who constantly need reassurance from peers) overwhelmingly reported feeling phantom vibrations, notifications and rings.

“Attachment anxiety directly predicted the frequency of phantom ringing and notification experiences”, the study says.

On the other hand, those with attachment avoidance (people who tend to be averse to social interaction) were far less familiar with ringxiety.

Your attachment style is a part of your personality that dictates how you connect with people.

People with higher levels of attachment anxiety feel the need for a constant connection with somebody and have a fear of abandonment.

Attachment avoidance is usually characterized by fear of social intimacy and a reluctance to trust others.

We all fall somewhere on the spectrum, and your experience with PVS could indicate where.

In many ways, it makes sense that those of us who crave reassurance from our friends would experience phantom ringing more frequently because we’ve got an innate need to connect with people all the time.

That insecurity then manifests itself in the form of phantom calls.

The study also found that context matters – when students were expecting a call or text, they were likely to feel their phones ringing much more.

While it isn’t conclusive proof, it certainly does prompt some terrifying self-reflection.

Next time you feel that phone vibrating – it’s not some weird glitch, you’re probably just clingy.

About the author

Riordan is Techly’s News and Social Editor. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl

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