Nine of 10 people suffer from “phantom vibration syndrome” – where they mistakenly think their mobile phone is vibrating in their pocket – it has been claimed.
Dr Robert Rosenberger, philosopher and assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, said the phenomenon was caused by “learned bodily habits.”
Research, published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, suggests that by person leaving a phone in their pocket it becomes “part of their body” in the same way that wearing glasses can, as it is easy to forget they are there.
“People then perceive other sensations such as movement of clothing of muscle spasms as vibrations from your mobile, but it’s just a hallucination,” said the professor.
In an interview with the BBC, he said: “One recent study of undergraduates reports that 90 per cent of them say that they’ve experienced these phantom vibrations.”
Dr Rosenberger said people were “just so anxious these days, because of all of our different technologies”, which include emails and text messages, “have us on edge.”
“We are more inclined to be jumpy and feel something in our pocket as a phantom vibration,” he adds.