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E-mail Greater Distraction Than Drugs

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-03

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In a British study, researchers find the continual interruption of e-mail causes a greater IQ loss than marijuana does.

A continual assault of ringing phones, incoming e-mails, and warbling pagers and other electronic devices bombards office workers. The end result of that leaves workers tired and distracted, and suffering a temporary IQ drop greater than when smoking pot.

According to CNN.com, 80 clinical trials conducted by a British psychiatrist considered the effects of juggling work and messages on workers.

What Dr. Glenn Wilson found was a 10-point IQ drop in his study subjects. This would be equal to missing a whole night's sleep or more than double the 4 point IQ drop after smoking marijuana.

"This is a very real and widespread phenomenon," Dr. Wilson said. "We have found that this obsession with looking at messages, if unchecked, will damage a worker's performance by reducing their mental sharpness."

People seem to feel especially pressured into checking and responding quickly to e-mail. Half of Dr. Wilson's test subjects answered e-mail within an hour of receiving it. Nearly two out of three feel the need to check messages while on vacation or otherwise away from the office.

"Companies should encourage a more balanced and appropriate way of working," said Dr. Wilson.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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