You have a meeting. But really, its a meeting where you just need to be there; you’re not the VIP of this meeting. So you get into the conference room, settle down on a chair at the far end of the table, and think about why Shirley hasn’t texted you back.

Then, during the meeting you suddenly have to write something down! But wait, you have no paper, no pen – you didn’t bring anything… but your phone. You take out your smartphone and open up a note-taking app and start typing with your two thumbs.

Then you feel this uneasiness, as if some of the people are looking at you strangely. You feel like you’re texting in a classroom during an exam. Why is this happening to you?

We can casually speculate why this might be. Behaviorists and social psychologists could argue that this is a form of social conditioning. Everyone who’s been to school knows that fiddling around with your phone during class would lead to trouble – most often regardless of what you were doing with your phone. Our innocent smartphones are an aversive stimulus in a productive environment like offices and schools.

Laptops are a totally different story. Have a laptop open during lectures or in meetings, and it doesn’t seem too bad. You can even get away with a tablet computer.

So the real question is… how big is big enough? if a 9.7 inch iPad is big enough to pass, is the 7 inch Nexus 7 tablet big enough? Is the Samsung Galaxy Note big enough to seem legitimate in office/classroom environments?

If this lab ever gets funding, we’ll know. We’ll study this and tell you exactly how big your device should be to make meetings and class time not awkward.