Along with the smartphone breakthrough, numerous restriction policies also came within a lot of companies, trying to restrain employees from using their smartphones while working, in the name of productivity. But do smartphones indeed have such a negative impact on the workplace? Can inhibiting smartphone usage be more detrimental, based on the ego depletion theory, than the smartphones themselves? This experiment focuses on replicating a workplace environment while discovering the subsequent effects on productivity of exerting self-control to not use smart phones, making a direct comparison with individuals that were allowed to indulge their smartphone-related impulses. To accomplish that, subjects were assigned in a control and treatment group, with the former instructed to use their smartphones as they like and the latter to perform inhibition before a subsequent Go/No-Go task assessing their cognitive performance. By measuring participants’ reaction times and errors on this task, this study’s main objective was to explore if ego depletion was present for individuals that inhibited using their smartphones in the first place. Secondly, the study investigated gender differences in reaction times and errors for the participants in both the control and treatment group. It was hypothesized that women’s social orientation would have a stronger negative impact on the subsequent task’s performance in comparison with the men in the same group. The experiment also investigated how participants’ haptic processing is correlated with their performance on the Go/No-go task, by using the autotelic Need for Touch scale. Analyzing the participants’ performance on the Go/No-Go task, no differences were found between individuals that inhibited their smartphone use and the ones that were instructed otherwise. Gender differences were non-existent in both groups, as also subjects’ haptic processing did not play a role in predicting their performance on the subsequent task. Despite the lack of significant results, this research raises the question of whether inhibiting using our smartphones in the workplace in the first place is more harmful for our cognition than using them, providing an experimental blueprint for future research. Exploring the possibility that inhibition in the first place can interfere with one’s working performance is essential and valuable for establishing policies within companies.

Additional Metadata
Thesis Advisor T. Wang
Persistent URL
Series Economics
G. Verros. (2020, April 24). To Inhibit or Not To Inhibit? An Ego Depletion Study: How inhibiting smartphone usage affects our cognitive performance in a subsequent task, in a workplace replication environment. Economics. Retrieved from