Are Speakerphone Mobile Calls Less Annoying Than Regular Calls?

from the might-be-a-stretch dept

Last week we noted a new study saying that people get annoyed with others talking on mobile phones because they only hear one half of the conversation. At the time, I wrote that this made sense as periods of silence followed by talking are a lot more jarring to the passive listener. However, this BBC report claims that the reason for the annoyance is that it shows that we’re more curious about what the other party is saying. I’m not sure I buy that. It seems much more likely that it’s the variability in noise, from silent to noisy rather than any form of curiosity. When the conversation is at a constant hum (even when loud), it’s much easier to tune it out. Still, the findings do go against the opinion many people have expressed that things like “push-to-talk” where the phone usually acts as a speaker phone would be more annoying since we get to hear both sides of the conversation. In fact, the researchers behind the study are even suggesting that mobile phone makers may want to explore adding speaker phones to more phones to make them less annoying. Of course, the study only set up two conditions: a conversation on a mobile phone and a face-to-face conversation. They didn’t test the speaker phone situation to see how annoying that was. It’s possible that the annoyance factor comes from the inability to make use of body language to express concepts as well, leading to a different tone of voice.

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Comments on “Are Speakerphone Mobile Calls Less Annoying Than Regular Calls?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I think "curiosity" is more likely...

Personally, I think curiosity is the more likely explanation, and I base this on personal annoyance experience.

Generally, if I’m in a restaraunt, and someone picks up the phone, there are things that strike me immediately.

1. People talk louder on the phone.
2. You’re constantly wondering “just what the HECK are they talking about”

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Phone etiquette

I honestly don’t care about others conversations.
I would much rather they get up, take the conversation to a semi-private place and stop ruining my experience of going to dinner or a movie.

People do tend to talk louder on their cell phones. AND, I can’t believe what some people discuss in public !

Mark says:

Re: It's a volume thing.

90% of the complaints I’ve heard about cell phone conversations relate to volume. People consistently talk louder into their phones than is appropriate in the situation they’re in. I could see where a speakerphone would actually be worse — since you’d be inclined to hold it away from your head when listening to the speaker, you might want to shout even louder in reply.

The second annoyance factor, of course, is that people in confined spaces for extended periods of time — on buses, for instance, and airplanes too if the airlines allow it — use their phones to alleviate boredom. So the conversations they initiate aren’t important, and they’re not brief, making them a lethal combination (for everyone within earshot) of triviality discussed at length. What are you having for dinner tonight? I don’t know, and I don’t care — but I’ll know all about it if you pick up your phone and talk to someone about it when I’m in the seat next to you. I respect your right to discuss dinner and other equally boring topics, but I request that you not do it when I lack the ability to shut that conversation out.

Bottom line: cell phones will remain annoying until they’re subvocalized.

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