Aka Phantom Cellphone Vibration – when you think you feel your phone vibrating when it is not. Yes, this is a real thing that has been the subject of academic studies.
From a study at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, United States entitled Phantom vibrations among undergraduates: Prevalence and associated psychological characteristics:
Phantom vibration syndrome,’ or perceived vibrations from a device that is not really vibrating, is a recent psychological phenomenon that has attracted the attention of the media and medical community. Most (89%) of the 290 undergraduates in our sample had experienced phantom vibrations, and they experienced them about once every two weeks, on average. However, few found them bothersome. Those higher in conscientiousness experienced phantom vibrations less frequently, and those who had strong reactions to text messages (higher in the emotional reaction subscale of text message dependence) were more bothered by phantom vibrations. These findings suggest that targeting individuals’ emotional reactions to text messages might be helpful in combating the negative consequences of both text message dependency and phantom vibrations. However, because few young adults were bothered by these phantom vibrations or made attempts to stop them, interventions aimed at this population may be unnecessary.