John Laprise, an Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, discusses the result of cellphone ubiquity on self-efficacy. For more information on the impact of mobile phones on society, check out the Center for Global Communication Studies' conference titled “Ubiquity, Mobility, Globality: Charting Directions in Mobile Phone Studies,” which took place November 6-7, 2014. Click here for more information.
Many scholars are examining the effects of the Internet on individuals, but I would like to take a moment to talk about how the increasingly ubiquitous smartphone offers unique affordances to its user. When psychologists speak about an individual’s belief in his ability to succeed, they refer to self-efficacy. Experience (doing it), modelling (seeing someone else do it), and social persuasion (responding to external comments) all impact self-efficacy. Positive outcomes yield improved self-efficacy and negative outcomes result in reduced self-efficacy. By affording their users inexhaustible opportunities to make low cost, low risk, but gratifying choices, smartphones enable their users to develop the confidence to overcome societal barriers to individual choice. Smartphones’ steadily growing utility makes them increasingly ubiquitous. The result is the broad but subtle global growth of self-efficacy and, perhaps, individuality.