‘Phubbing’: The Modern Way To Kill Your Relationship

Phubbing is a phone behaviour linked to depression and lower relationship satisfaction.

Phubbing is a phone behaviour linked to depression and lower relationship satisfaction.

Phones could be damaging romantic relationships and leading to depression, a study finds.

Researchers looked at the impact of snubbing your partner to look at your phone.

They have called 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 phone where they can see it when we are together.
  • My partner keeps his or her phone in their hand when he or she is with me.
  • My partner glances at his/her phone when talking to me.
  • If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her phone.

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 journalĀ Computers in Human Behavior (Roberts et al., 2016).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

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.

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