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