Twitter more tempting than sex and sleep, study says

Tweeting harder to resist than sex, coffee, and alcohol, say researchers from the University of Chicago. Now, let's just see you try to resist tweeting this story.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

What do you desire most right now? A drink? A cigarette? A nap? That hottie at the next table? Come on, be honest. What you really want to do this instant, if you haven't already done it, is to tweet the headline of this story.

You really thought I'd buy "coconut water" as an answer? I write for Crave, people.

In fact, perhaps the only group more tuned in to people's desires than our stable of writers is the team from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business that conducted an experiment with more than 200 people to try to gauge what tempts them most.

Lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann explained to the Guardian that the participants, located in the German city of Wurtzburg, were pinged seven times a day via their BlackBerrys and asked to report any desires they had experienced in the past 30 minutes, as well as the intensity of each want.

Sorting through the thousands of "desire episodes" reported, the team found that it was easier for people to resist more traditional temptations like coffee, alcohol, sex, work, or spending money than it was to spurn the yearning to tweet.

The researchers said the two basic urges necessary to further our survival as a species--namely sleep and sex--are probably still stronger desires for most people than the siren call of social media, but people find it "easier" to give in to the Twittersphere. The conjecture here is that checking and sending status updates is low-cost, low-risk, and easy to do from almost anywhere, unlike sleep and sex--except perhaps for the most shameless among us.

The problem, it seems to me, is that tweeting is so easy, there's no reason it can't be done while smoking, drinking, and yes, doing those other things, too. Not that you should try that at home. Just trust me on this one.

The study will soon be published in Psychological Science.

 

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