(CNN)Being glued to your smartphone could be causing you to make impulsive decisions and crave immediate gratification.
In fact, people who spend more time on their phones are more likely to reject larger, delayed rewards in favor of smaller, immediate rewards, according to a study published Wednesday in the academic journal PLOS ONE.
Research has long shown that a preference for smaller, immediate rewards -- what researchers call delay discounting -- is an indicator for various negative behaviors, such as drug addiction, excessive gambling, and alcohol abuse. Now, new research from Freie Universität in Berlin reveals that excessive smartphone use is also linked to impulsivity.
"Our findings provide further evidence that smartphone use and impulsive decision-making go hand in hand," said researchers Tim Schulz van Endert and Peter Mohr in a statement.
"People who are already aware of their impulsive decision-making may benefit from the knowledge of their increased risk of overusing smartphones," the authors wrote.
There are at least two factors underlying impulsive choice, lead author Schulz van Endert told CNN. One is a person's self-control -- the ability to withstand temptations in order to achieve specific goals. The other is the ability to imagine potential outcomes of their behaviors and future consequences.
"We found that participants lower in self-control tended to use their smartphone more," said Schulz van Endert, a doctoral student at Freie Universität.
"However, high (use) smartphone users did not seem to lack the ability to imagine the (potentially adverse) consequences of their behavior."
Social media and gaming linked to wanting immediate rewards
The study also found that a preference for small, immediate rewards was linked to heavier use of two types of apps: social media and gaming.
"Both types of apps offer quick gratification in the form of likes or entertaining content (social media) and rewards or bonuses (gaming)," said Schulz van Endert via email. "It seems intuitive that individuals drawn to immediate rewards will spend more time on these apps."
He added that more research is needed to investigate the appeal of different apps, and find out exactly why social media and gaming are linked with a stronger preference for immediate rewards, since that was not within the scope of their study.
The research was based on data from the built-in iPhone app that tracks phone usage, providing