Cellphones could be damaging romantic relationships and leading to depression, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at the impact of snubbing your partner to look at your phone.
They dubbed this ‘phubbing’ (phone snubbing).
Dr James A. Roberts, the study’s first author, said:
“What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction.
These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.”
Examples of phubbing include:
- My partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
- My partner keeps his or her cellphone in their hand when he or she is with me.
- My partner glances at his/her cellphone when talking to me.
- If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.
The survey, which included 145 people, found:
- 46% had been ‘phubbed’ by their partner.
- 23% said this phubbing caused conflict in their relationships.
- 37% felt depressed at least some of the time.
Dr Meredith David, another of the study’s authors, said:
“In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal.
However, our findings suggest that the more often a couple’s time spent together is interrupted by one individual attending to his/her cellphone, the less likely it is that the other individual is satisfied in the overall relationship.
Specifically, momentary distractions by one’s cellphone during time spent with a significant other likely lowers the significant other’s satisfaction with their relationship, and could lead to enhanced feelings of depression and lower well-being of that individual.
Thus, when spending time with one’s significant other, we encourage individuals to be cognizant of the interruptions caused by their cellphones, as these may well be harmful to their relationship.”
The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (Roberts et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Phones and relationships image from Shutterstock