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Asked by Lamar Gibson in
Technology
Mobile Phones

Why do I sometimes feel my phone vibrate when it's not actually vibrating?

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Grover Carroll
November 14, 2019 10:31PM

There’s actually a name (albeit an informal one) for this: phantom vibration syndrome. There’s also phantom ringing syndrome, fauxcellarm, ringxiety—but it’s all the same concept, and it’s pretty dang common.

Researchers have characterized this phenomenon as a “sensory hallucination.” While the exact cause of the hallucination is unknown, the prevailing theory is that since we habitually feel and listen for our phones, things as small as muscle twitches or overheard music clips register as phone notifications.

"Through bodily habit, your phone actually becomes a part of you, and you become trained to perceive the phone's vibrations as an incoming call or text," said Robert Rosenberger, a researcher on the concept, in an interview with WebMD. "So, due to these kinds of habits, it becomes really easy to misperceive other similar sensations."

If you experience phantom vibration syndrome, it’s nothing to worry about, and you’re far from alone. A survey of a hospital found that 68 percent of the staff who responded experienced phantom vibrations. Fifty eight percent of 10 to 14 year olds experience phantom notifications, according to one survey, and a staggering 89 percent of undergraduates experience them, according to another.

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Ty Evans
3 days ago
Phantom vibration syndrome is why
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Mythren Daniels
November 22, 2019 7:10PM
you are freezing .
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Kinsey6
November 27, 2019 5:36PM
Try checking your Settings to make sure an app isn't causing it to vibrate. Sometimes different apps will do that, say, for example, if you get an email. Mine can flash the screen, flash the LED camera flash, vibrate the phone, and vibrate it in different patterns. I have it set to vibrate and flash the screen if I get an email specifically addressed to me (i.e., not spam or a generic/political email) or there's a tornado warning from one of the weather apps. Every phone model is different, so it's impossible for me to give specific instructions on how to stop/start the vibrating, but you may need to go into your Settings, then drill down into submenus of submenus before you find the individual setting to turn the vibrating off. It could also be located in the Settings of any of the individual apps on your phone too (i.e., the app's Settings, not the phone's). Some will have the vibrate option and some won't, so you'll just have to check each one. You can also try googling your question using the specific model of your phone, or calling the phone's manufacturer.
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Emily Goodenough
November 22, 2019 11:25PM
Your nerves are doing something weird
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Nathaniel Wright
November 22, 2019 8:32PM
#takeittothebank