Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Biopsychosocial Analysis of Mobile Phone Addiction

Modern mobile phones become small portable computers that can virtually do everything like a normal desktop computer (Adepu & Adler, 2016). Some of its most used functions, apart from using it as a phone are: multimedia device, social networking device, gaming console, internet browser (Adepu & Adler, 2016). However, mobile phones weren’t always as powerful a computer as they are now, not until the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007 did the smart phone movement properly gain momentum (Pressman, 2017).

            Since then, people have been becoming increasingly attached to their phones, and the frequency with which they check their phones have been increasing (Stickles, Kempema, & Brown, 2018). With some people it has become an addiction (Alter, 2017).

This leads us to the question, what makes mobile phones addictive?

In order to attempt to answer the question of this research paper, a hypothesis and null hypothesis will be set and compared with scientific biopsychosocial literature.


The more immersive the mobile phone interface is, the more addictive it becomes.

Null Hypothesis

No link between mobile phone interface and mobile phone addiction.

Biopsychological approach:

Interaction with mobile phones occurs through the output methods of the device and the user’s visual, auditory and tactile senses (koing, 2010). However, the impact of visual perception in individuals that have all senses fully functional is greater than the rest of the senses (Kirsch, Herbort, Ullrich, & Kunde, 2017). This empirical fact contributes to the research that has been conducted on the evolution of mobile phones, whereas screens have become larger with the emergence of the smartphone, the user experience has become more immersive and enticing (Alter, 2017).

Moreover, a 2018 study found evidence to support the correlation between mobile phone addiction and craniovertebral angle and depression (Salvi & Battin, 2018).

Psychosocial Approach:

According to the neurobiologist Adam Alter, psychological drivers of behavioral addiction are social engagement, sense of effectiveness, mental stimulation and social support (Alter, 2017), Those drivers are being promoted by technology designers, especially social media applications and sites (Alter, 2017) which are proliferating with the advancement of the smartphone screen (Hao, Wang, & Xu, 2016).

Biosocial Approach:

The designers of today’s technology aim at breaking down the individual’s self-regulation mechanisms (Bosker, 2016) .This aim is promoted and facilitated by technology corporations that employ them (Alter, 2017). This can be demonstrated through social media sites that have a bottomless design interface and reward users with a sense of engagement, such as likes, followers, friends etc. (Alter, 2017). This behavioral addiction is similar to substance addiction because they activate the same brain areas (Alter, 2017), however, unlike substance addiction, it is socially normalized and can’t be easily perceived (Morrie, Constable, & Malison, 2017).


The hypothesis was approached on multiple levels of the system hierarchy of the biopsychosocial model (Engle, 1981), ranging from the organ (brain) system level reaching the society system level. However, the focus was on the person level in order to isolate variables which might reduce contextual predictive validity (Laureate online education, 2016). The hypothesis was not falsified, because it was supported with scientific literature.


Adepu, S., & Adler, R. F. (2016). A comparison of performance and preference on mobile devices vs. desktop computers. IEEE 7th Annual Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics & Mobile Communication Conference (UEMCON). IEEE.

Alter, A. (2017). Irresistible: the business of technology is the business of addiction . Saturday Evening Post, 12;14;88.

Bosker, B. (2016, November). Tristan harris believes silicon valley is addicting us to our phones. he's determined to make it stop. Atlantic, pp. 56-65.

Engle, G. L. (1981). The clinical application of the biopsychosocial model. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 101-124.

Freeman, J. (2005). Towards a definition of holism. British Journal of General Practice, 154-155.

Hao, Y., Wang, Z., & Xu, X. (2016). Empirical study on the interface and feature evolutions of mobile apps. In Lecture Notes In Computer Science (p. 657). Banff, Canada: Springer.

Kirsch, W., Herbort, O., Ullrich, B., & Kunde, W. (2017). On the origin of body-related influences on visual perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1222-1237.

koing, M. (2010). System and method for generating a message notification based on sensory detection. USPTO Patent Applications.

Laureate online education . (2016, November 10). Week 8: applications of the biopsychosocial approach to health issues. smoking kills, so why do people do it? Mind, Brain and Behavior. Netherlands: Laureate Online Education B.V.

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Laureate online education. (2016, December 20). Week 7: the biopsychosocial perspective. the biopsychosocial perspective of related health behaviour. Mind, Brain and Behavior. Netherlands: Laureate Online Education B.V.

Laureate online education. (2016, Nevember 18). Week 8: applications of the biopsychosocial approach to health issues. does getting rich make us happier? Mind, Brain and Behavior. Netherlands: Laureate Online Education B.V.

Laureate online education. (2016, November 28). Week 8: applications of the biopsychosocial approach to health issues. why does childhood immunisation cause controversy? Mind, Brain and Behavior. Netherlands: Leaureate Online Education B.V.

Morrie, Constable, & Malison. (2017). Shared microstructural features of behavioral and substance addictions revealed in areas of crossing fibers. Elsevier, Inc., 188-195.

Pressman, A. (2017, January 6). The iphone decade. Fortune , pp. 23-25.

Salvi, R., & Battin, S. (2018). Correlation of mibile phone addiction scale (mpas) score with craneovertebral angle, scapular index and becks depression inventory scores in young adults. International Journal of Physiotherapy, 7-12.

Stickles, J. L., Kempema, J. M., & Brown, L. H. (2018). Original contribution: effect of mobile phone proliferation on crash notification times and fatality rates. American Journal of Emergency Medicine , 24-26.


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