The term ringxiety was first coined by psychologist David Laramie to describe the phantom feeling of a phone call in one's pocket. Some researchers think that ringxiety stems from a constant state of readiness that could develop in cell phone users. Before the advent of wireless phones, no one expected a call while driving in the car, shopping at the grocery store or dancing at a nightclub. With cell phones, though, there's a potential for a call to come through at any moment. Because of this, it's possible that our brains are conditioned to expect a call constantly, and when a person hears a tone that reminds him of his cell phone ringing, he will believe that's the case.
Peter Tse, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College, said phantom vibration rings may happen because cell phone users develop a “template” in their heads. “I have a template for my baby’s cry in my head, for example, and sometimes just by chance a random set of sounds will match it,” he said. “I will go to check, but the baby wasn’t crying. These templates of expectation are responsible for the feeling of a call or text message, even though one might be present. "The brain is constantly filtering out background information", Tse says, and "sometimes when a person is monitoring or searching for something important to them — such as a cell phone call or the sound of their own name — some of this background information is picked up and matched to a mental template".
- America's WatchTower - Beware of Phantom Vibration Syndrome. It could kill you. Published Nov. 13, 2007. Accessed Oct 20, 2011. http://americaswatchtower.com/2007/11/13/beware-of-phantom-vibration-syndrome-it-could-kill-you/