Up Next: Pavlovian Phantom Rings To Make You Pay Attention

from the wait...-is-that-my-phone? dept

In the last few years, I've noticed that there are certain noises that make me think my mobile phone is ringing (even though my phone is perpetually in vibrate mode, so as not to bother anyone). A few songs always make me reach for my phone and for some reason, a noise played by Fox Sports at the beginning of every inning of baseball games they broadcast always makes me wonder if my phone is ringing. It can actually get annoying. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. The concept of the "phantom ring," where certain noises make people think their phone is ringing, is suddenly getting a lot of attention. It seems that people are so trained to jump whenever their phone rings, that many of us have been mentally trained to pay extra attention to the possibility that our phones are ringing. Where this gets extra interesting is the suggestion that advertisers might use this to their advantage, and incorporate certain "phantom ring" noises into advertisements -- causing people to pay extra attention. The advertisers in the article deny it -- but others insist that the rise of such noises on TV is anything but an accident. Chances are, now that the NY Times has run this article, that a lot more advertisers will start doing this on purpose, though. Of course, maybe that will get more of us to move to Motorola's "shock me" phone, so that we no longer have to listen for rings.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2006 @ 11:05am

    Wouldn't it make people pay extra attention to their phones, and ignore the ad entirely?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2006 @ 11:06am

    Waht about the phantom vibrate?

    First!

    Why is it I can never find anyone complaining about phantom phone virations? Even when my phone is on the desk, in its charger, I can still feel it vibrating at times. Freaks me out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ben, 4 May 2006 @ 3:36pm

      Re: Waht about the phantom vibrate?

      Exactly! i've had that happen too... creepy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      danny, 27 Apr 2008 @ 6:30pm

      Re: Waht about the phantom vibrate?

      The same thing happens to me! That's why i just now seached google about it and found the article here. I'm wondering what has been done to the muscles in my leg (next the pocket where i keep my cell phone) to make them spasm just as if my phone were there vibrating.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2006 @ 11:25am

    It's nothing new...

    I've noticed that there are certain noises that make me think my mobile phone is ringing (even though my phone is perpetually in vibrate mode, so as not to bother anyone). A few songs always make me reach for my phone

    If your phone is always in vibrate mode, how would you ever make a mental association between some music or noise and your phone? I'd more likely expect that every time you experience random vibration that you'd think your phone is ringing.

    that advertisers might use this to their advantage, and incorporate certain "phantom ring" noises into advertisements

    This doesn't make sense to me. Given that there are thousands of available ringtones, how many people would respond to any given one? If we're talking about standard rings, not song clips (is there anyone still using standard rings??), they aren't really very different from home phone rings (real bell ringing went away a long time ago). It seems to me that advertisers have been including phone rings to get your attention for years.

    Radio advertisers laso do this occasionaly when they include a car horn or siren noise in their ads.

    A more disturbing attention-getting technique that they use is to increase the volume significantly higher than the programming around them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yossi, 4 May 2006 @ 12:02pm

    me too

    i get phantom vibrates all time. very wierd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Posterlogo, 4 May 2006 @ 12:05pm

    old news...

    And obvious too. Change your ring tone if you want your own unique pavlovian response. Some songs incorportate police sirens, static, or other wierd noises. Those songs are particularly annoying when you hear them while driving. Bastards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ConceptJunkie (profile), 4 May 2006 @ 12:37pm

      Re: old news...

      Annoying? They're practically dangerous. There's nothing worse than being in traffic and suddenly hearing a car horn with the snap-to-attention reaction and potential danger the noise represents... only to realize it's a $^*&$^$*ing radio ad.

      Of course, 95% of the time, when an ad comes on the radio (and I only listen to talk radio or classical since Clear Channel seems to think the entire world should only ever hear about 100 songs.), I just plug in my 80GB Nueros.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2006 @ 12:06pm

    vibrations

    my muscle spasms sometimes, and I think its my phone vibrating

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cjay, 4 May 2006 @ 12:09pm

    Age Based?

    Perhaps the response comes from people who grew up with household phones and the fairly standard rings. Maybe this advertising methodology with be generational and as youngsters learn to ignore the home phone because friends only call on the cell, they will not develop this Pavlovian response.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 4 May 2006 @ 12:11pm

    Zombies we are

    We have all become so dependent on our cell phones that we now feel obligated to answer every phone call that we get. I think we instinctively reach for our phones when there a noise/vibration reminds us of our cellphone. Only recently has ring tones become popular but most of us have grown up hearing ringing tones and it'll stay with us for a long time.

    As the title of the article indicates, we're all just animals and can be trained to do anything. Why do you think companies spend millions of dollars advertising because it works. We're really not that much different than our friends the canine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cathy, 4 May 2006 @ 12:49pm

      Re: Zombies we are

      "We have all become so dependent on our cell phones that we now feel obligated to answer every phone call that we get. I think we instinctively reach for our phones when there a noise/vibration reminds us of our cellphone."

      Really? Most people I know, including myself, screen all or most phone calls. I think too many people are hung up on the thought that people are "Too Available". Get over it and learn the word "no".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Robert, 4 May 2006 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Zombies we are

      It's not just that people feel obligated to answer it, it's that the person calling knows that it's a cell phone and should be answered, so they get emotionally hurt because they can be pretty sure that someone has the phone on them, and they just don't want to answer. I see many people pick up a cell and give the look of disgust that they have to answer the phone, because they already know who it is. In the past when we were all tied to land-lines you could just say "I wasn't home" and everything was cool.

      I don't hear phantom rings as much as phantom vibrations... maybe because I pay attention to my phone more when it's on vibrate though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Cathy, 4 May 2006 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re: Zombies we are

        "It's not just that people feel obligated to answer it, it's that the person calling knows that it's a cell phone and should be answered, so they get emotionally hurt because they can be pretty sure that someone has the phone on them, and they just don't want to answer."

        This is a good point. Perhaps people are too sensitive, or I am just not sensitive enough to care... either way I'm guess I'm off topic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete, 4 May 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Phantom Vibrations

    I have noticed this in vibration form. My phone will not even be in py pocket (on the desk for example) when I can swear that I feel something in my pocket vibrating like my phone does and I wind up checking anyway. Really wierd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SPR, 4 May 2006 @ 12:58pm

    Phantom Rings

    How effective could it be for such tactics on TV or on the radio. When I hear a noise that I think is my phone I mute the device and check the phone, thereby missing the point the advertiser may have been trying to make.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    popdaddy, 4 May 2006 @ 1:07pm

    Used be illegal...

    ...on radio to have any sound effects (horns, sirens, etc.) that might distract drivers (I was in radio in the late eighties). Now maybe I was told incorrectly about the legality but even if it's just a courtesy, it's one worth considering. Using subliminal or pavlovian psychological tricks on consumers is just another example of marketing by any means necessary and not appealing to the consumers heart and/or mind (and I'm speaking of the logical/reasonable mind). It will be very interesting to see where advertising goes as the mobile web and blogosphere mature...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2006 @ 1:43pm

    The phantom vibration is probably a tumor emerging or a twitch caused by cell phone cancer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agonizing Fury, 4 May 2006 @ 2:15pm

    Wow

    I never really thought that much about that. It is kinda scary that we are so trained in something like this. I don't know how many times I've experience phantom rings or vibrations (sometimes I think I hear my phone vibrating in the other room, but my phone is really in my pocket.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 4 May 2006 @ 10:40pm

    phantom phone

    It's not just phones. I've heard what I thought were "accidental" default computer noises on radio ads. Now that I read this I think that these are not so accidental, seeing as many people listen to radio over the internet, this could cause people to concentrate on the sound from their computers, i.e., the commercial

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Riley, 5 May 2006 @ 10:59am

    This reminds me of the doorbell commercials. You hear the ding-dong and you immediately have to start paying attention to determine if it is real or not. I've never thought these kinds of ad tactics to be accidental - this stuff has been going on for years.

    The funny thing is that my dog has lived in our house his entire life and definitely knows the sound of our doorbell... but when a commercial comes on and a doorbell sounds that is distinctively different from ours, he still goes crazy and thinks someone is at the door. Sadly, my first thought is the same even though I know its not our doorbell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2006 @ 1:57pm

    Coming of age in the Age of Technology

    I have observed this phenomenon with my oven timer, but I don't use cel phones -- or tee vee (except to put in a VHS or LD every few months) or radio (except standard electronic equipment such as computer & short-range remote phone).

    I seriously doubt that radio or tV has been including such noise on purpose, but sound can creep in to any willing circuit so you never know...

    "The maestro says it's Mozart, but it sounds like bubblegum."
    --Leonard Cohen

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2006 @ 2:02pm

    I was banging my GF with a vibrator the other night and she was screaming "yes, yes, yes" but I found out later that it was just a phantom vibration from her cell phone...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan Weber, 7 May 2006 @ 12:49pm

    Much worse then cell phone sounds are alarm clock noise sounds.

    I despise those with the red-hot passion of a thousand suns.

    Doritos used to have a radio spot with that. I tried to register my umbrage with them at their website, but it was (at that time) some flash-infested piece of trendy k00l-ness and I couldn't find any place to tell them how I felt.

    I've called up radio stations to tell them that what they were playing was so despised I changed the station, but they didn't seem to care much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Frank Lee, 10 May 2006 @ 3:57pm

    It's not helped by certain feathery wild life in the garden mockingly mimicking me phone ringer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cassidy, 4 Jun 2006 @ 6:05am

    TV off. sounds not.

    I often have my television off and i hear that noise of when your calling someone. The 'brrrring, briiing.' My cellphone has it's speaker off, and there isn't another noise. I was also talking to a friend that was over outside, and I heard the noise, but she didn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mike, 1 Jun 2009 @ 7:20am

    ringing

    has anybody consider electronic harassment? EMHDF.COM might change your life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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