Amr Soror, Assistant ISDS professor at Cal State Fullerton's Mihaylo College, is researching the impact of modern technologies on society.

Mihaylo Assistant ISDS Professor Amr Soror is attempting to understand how self-regulation impacts IT, such as addictive smartphone usage.

Joining the Mihaylo ISDS faculty in fall 2015, Assistant ISDS Professor Amr Soror is lead author of the study, “Good Habits Gone Bad: Explaining Negative Consequences Associated with the Use of Mobile Phones from a Dual-Systems Perspective,” examining mobile phone addiction.

Smartphones have become a staple of modern life. As of November 2015, 68% of Americans owned one or more Web-based mobile phones, up from only 35% four years ago. Mobile web browsing is rapidly replacing personal computers and laptops as the primary internet-enabled device.

Along with the benefits of increased communication in real-time, the ever-present smartphone carries the risk of misuse. Cellphone use is a factor in a fourth of car crashes in the U.S. and millions of students and employees have difficulty putting their phones away for academic or professional tasks.

Mihaylo Assistant ISDS Professor Amr Soror examined the behaviors behind the addictive and negative use of mobile phone technology in his 2015 co-authored study, “Good Habits Gone Bad: Explaining Negative Consequences Associated with the Use of Mobile Phones from a Dual-Systems Perspective,” which appeared in the Information Systems Journal, one of the top six information systems publications.

How People Can Start – And Stop – Being Addicted to Smartphones

Soror’s study relies on the understanding that the human brain is guided by the dual systems he mentions in the title of his study: a reflexive (automatic system) and a reflective (control system). Most of the time, these systems work together to help individuals achieve their goals. But these systems can lead to negative outcomes when the context of behaviors that have become automatic – such as answering a cellphone – occur in inappropriate settings, such as while driving or during a class.

“Our behavior occurs when there is a stimulus we respond to the stimulus, and there is an outcome for the response,” says Soror. “The habit might be activated in a context differently than it was first developed in. The habit itself is neither good nor bad – it is neutral. The problem is when the habit is exercised in an inappropriate context, such as while driving.”

Using an online survey of 266 respondents aged 18 to 68, the results supported the belief that improving individual self-control can minimize inappropriate use of technology. “If people make a conscious determination, such as ‘if my cellphone rings while driving, I won’t pick it up,’ the effort pays off,” says Soror.

While part of a growing worldwide body of academic literature on the addictive use of technology used by students and researchers worldwide, Soror hopes his study is useful for lay populations. “My research is not only for academia,” he explains. “I hope it can be useful for young people, parents and employers, trying to understand both the positive and negative uses of technology. This duality of IT research use creates an interesting venue for conducting my studies.”

A person in athletic attire monitors a wristband fitness tracking device.

Fitness tracking devices can monitor steps walked, calories burned, heart rate and other physiological functions. Mihaylo ISDS Assistant Professor Amr Soror is planning to conduct research on how to produce optimal consumer outcomes with fitness devices.

Future Research Studies

Soror is already planning additional research studies, all examining the intersection of information systems, psychology, sociology and business. “I’m always looking at self-regulation to understand IT-related phenomenon,” he says.

He is currently studying how to enhance fitness tracking devices, used by millions of health-conscious people around the world, to produce optimal outcomes. He is also working on a project on enterprise social media networks, such as Google+, which are being used by organizations to share knowledge among employees.

“I’m trying to understand why people share and seek knowledge from such platforms and how this helps companies,” he says. “Businesses would like to know how these networks can provide a practical benefit.”

About Amr Soror

Born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, one of the world’s oldest centers of higher education, Soror earned his undergraduate degree in business from Alexandria University in 2003. His MBA in information technology and enterprise integration is from Old Dominion University in Virginia, and he completed his Ph.D. in information systems at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business in 2015.

Soror teaches ISDS 361A – Business Analytics I. He will also be teaching ISDS 551-Information Resources and IT Project Management this summer and fall and ISDS 435 – Integrated Enterprise Information Systems in fall.

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