If you’re guilty of phubbing, that is snubbing others by constantly looking at your cellphone, then you may want to change your ways soon as a recent survey confirms that cellphones are damaging romantic relationships and leading to higher levels of depression.
For their study, the Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business researchers conducted two separate surveys, accounting for a total of 453 adults in the U.S., to learn the relational effects of “Pphubbing” – or “partner phone snubbing.” Pphubbing is described in the study as the extent to which people use or are distracted by their cellphones while in the company of their relationship partners.
James A. Roberts said that they discovered that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction, adding that these lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.
Researcher Meredith David said that the 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.
She added that 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.
Roberts explained that those with anxious attachment styles (less secure in their relationship) were more bothered (reported higher levels of cellphone conflict) than those with more secure attachment styles (more secure in their relationship). In addition, lower levels of relationship satisfaction – stemming, in part, from being Pphubbed – led to decreased life satisfaction that, in turn, led to higher levels of depression.
“When you think about the results, they are astounding,” Roberts said. “Something as common as cellphone use can undermine the bedrock of our happiness – our relationships with our romantic partners.”
The study appears in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.