According to a recent study, cell phone use while in the company of a significant other can severely impact your relationship and promote the feeling of isolation within a couple. The phenomenon has even a name: phubbing or ‘partner phone snubbing.’
Dr. James A. Roberts, co-author of the study and marketing professor at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, explained that phubbing often led to dissatisfaction and a higher risk of depression in the affected partner. As a result, dissatisfaction with the relationship led to dissatisfaction with life in general and depression.
The two authors published their study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
During their research, study authors led two separate surveys. More than 450 participants were involved in those surveys. Phubbing does not only mean that you use your phone when you are having a conversation with your partner. It also means that you get distracted by the device while in the company of another person.
In the first survey, study participants identified four behaviors as part of snubbing. Participants said that they felt they were phubbed when their relationship partners placed their phones so they could see them during a conversation, or glanced at the phones’ screen while talking to them, or kept their phones in their hands when they were with them. Another sign of phubbing is looking at your phone when there’s a short pause in conversation.
In the second survey, participants assessed how bad phubbing was affecting the quality of their romantic relationships. Participants were asked to provide details on phone-related conflicts, level of relationship satisfaction, type of attachment experienced in a relationship, and level of depression.
More than 45 percent said that their significant others routinely phubbed them. About 22 percent said that phubbing was the cause of conflicts, while 36 percent said that they sometimes felt depressed over being phubbed by their loved ones.
Overall, only 30 percent were satisfied with their relationship.
Study authors also found that partners engaged in phubbing think that their behavior is ‘not a big deal.’ But the study showed that the more phone-related distractions affected a relationship, the higher the chance that the other partner would feel dissatisfied with the relationship and get depressed.
So, researchers recommend phubbers to be aware that their habit may take its toll on their relationships on the long run. Study authors also learned that partners that had an anxious attachment style were more prone to relationship dissatisfaction and depression than those with a healthier attachment style.
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