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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.[1]

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".[2]


  1. http://en.ethiopianreporter.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2440&Itemid=1
  2. 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/