General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

What is the difference between someone talking on a cellphone, or having a conversation with an actual person when you are in a public place?

Asked by tinyfaery (42938points) July 31st, 2008

New legislation in Congress. People tend to find cellphone banter intrusive. Is banning cellphones really necessary? As a side-note, I believe its been determined cellphones pose no risk to aircraft in flight.

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22 Answers

marinelife's avatar

The main difference is the sound level. Perform this experiment. Stand in a room and listen to someone talking on a landline phone. Then have that same person talk while making a call on a cell phone.

You will be astonished at the volume difference. Landline phones (and in person conversations) have a feedback mechanism that allows the talker to hear their sound and thus to modulate their tones appropriately.

Cell phones do not. Thus, speakers are much louder than they are in normal face-to-face conversation.

Further, in-person speakers at a public place retain awareness of their surroundings and modulate their tones as necessary so as not to disturb others. Cell phone speakers focus on their conversations to the exclusion of the sounds and activity around them.

tinyfaery's avatar

I hear people’s face-to-face conversations in stores, restaurants, etc., all the time; people can be very loud, and they do not seem to care who can hear what is being said. As well, I see people talking into their bluetooth devices and cellphones all the time, and I cannot hear a word they are saying.

I cannot agree with your premise.

PupnTaco's avatar

People tend to talk louder on their phones and are oblivious to what’s going on around them. Two people standing together face-to-face would speak at a normal volume, or lower their voices when talking about something personal.

tinyfaery's avatar

@PnT Again, I have too many personal experiences that prove otherwise.

PupnTaco's avatar

You must live in a kind and courteous town. :)

poofandmook's avatar

@tiny: LOL I want to move to your town!! In New York/New Jersey? fuhgeddaboudit.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I think it should be up to the airlines to ban cell phones on their airlines, not congress.

Cell phones may not pose a threat to airplanes, but they may pose a threat to us.–02/afot-cpl021408.php,2933,343335,00.html

tinyfaery's avatar

@PnT I live in your town.

marinelife's avatar

@tf I don’t know what to tell you except that your anecdotal experience is not the norm. I was speaking from my experience working for years in the cellular telephone industry. This is really not a matter of debate, but has been scientifically studied. Here is a summary of one study’s results:

Study Results
The results were as follows. The numbers indicate the average rating on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being most favorable.

The first table compares bystander ratings for mobile-phone conversations versus face-to-face conversations:

Mobile phone
Conversation was very noticeable 3.4 Conversation was intrusive 2.5
Volume of conversation was annoying 2.4
Average 2.8

Conversation was very noticeable 1.8
Conversation was intrusive 1.4
Volume of conversation was annoying 1.6
Average 1.6

Poser's avatar

I think it also has something to do with the one-sidedness of cellphone conversations. Like someone is talking to themselves. Crazy.

tinyfaery's avatar

We are so persistent about the statistics, except when it refutes our own ideas (see). Aren’t these studies based on may people’s “anecdotal experiences”?

@poser Thanks for the legitimate answer.

marinelife's avatar

Um, no. If you looked at the link, you would see it was a study. The conversation content was identical. The volume was the same. The conditions were the same. It was an experiment that was set up and tabulated. Each person experienced the same set of stimuli and answered the same survey questions. Also, at the time they heard the conversations, they did not realize they were participating in a study. That is not the same as anecdotal information.

tinyfaery's avatar

Again statistics. Whatever, I guess my own experience is incorrect. Guess its just my imagination.

marinelife's avatar

@tf No, not necessarily. Your experiences are valid. They just don’t represent most people experiences most of the time.

loser's avatar

a cell phone.

Drunken_noodles's avatar

The difference? Ppl speaking, I feel intrusive if I hear anything. Cell phone….I get annoyed if they’re loud, and eavesdropping doesn’t seem to count for some reason. Reminds me of the Lewis Black sketch…“If it weren’t for my horse…” Who’s to say they weren’t on a phone?

St.George's avatar

I heard somewhere that our brain automatically wants to fill in the missing parts of a conversation and that is what makes mobile phone conversations so distracting, and therefore annoying. When two people are near us having a conversation, our brain doesn’t need to do that so we don’t really notice it. I think I heard it on an episode of Michael Krasny’s Forum on KQED.

poofandmook's avatar

@Drunken: I had to give you lurve for that. “If it weren’t for my horse, I never would’ve spent that year in college…”

marinelife's avatar

@Megan64 The researchers were surprised to find that in the study that I linked to. Good point. (Doesn’t say much for us humans, though, does it?) :)

St.George's avatar

@ Marina: Nope…victims of our biology or chemistry…

ninjaxmarc's avatar

text message.

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