Phubbing: Phone use harmful to relationships

Relationships|September 13th 2015

Excessive use of a mobile phone can be harmful to romantic relationships, academics have claimed.

Researchers from Baylor University in Waco, Texas surveyed 145 adults to find out how big an impact “phubbing” had on a relationship. A portmanteau of “phone” and “snubbing”, this term was popularised in Australia to describe when someone checks their phone in their partner’s company.

Study co-authors James Roberts and Meredith David are business professors at the university. They presented respondents with a series of nine statements related to what they called “p-phubbing”, or partner-phubbing. Then they asked each person to rate the statements on a scale depending on how often they experienced what was described, from one to five. On this scale, one meant that what they read was never true and five meant it always was.

Respondents rated statements to reveal the regularity that their partners checked their phone during meals or how often they glanced at their phones during conversations and leisure time.

After they had completed a rating of all nine statements, each person was given tests to measure their levels of happiness and their relationship style. Researchers found that p-phubbing had a negative effect across the board.

This was especially true in relationships which included someone with an “anxious attachment style”. People who were afraid of being ignored or abandoned were more likely to come into conflict with their partner over the overuse of phones.

Dr Roberts and Dr David said their results indicated that “the institution of marriage (and romantic relationships in general) is under attack” from mobile phones.

The results were published in the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Photo courtesy of the Highways Agency via Flickr

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. The Devil's Advocate says:

    Interesting. Whether it’s due to an emotional imbalance of a feeling of attachment loss to another because of only a. wide superficial association through this medium or a more serious psychotic narcissistic need. Are deeper relationships losing out to such disorders? And is it the same as someone who irrespective of the reason keep a TV running when one has guests. We will no doubt be informed as the situation worsens in the future. I wonder if S.Jobs understood this partial legacy?

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