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Study: Phubbing Damages Relationships, Causes Depression

Partner phone snubbing, or phubbing, is becoming one of the leading causes of unhappiness in modern day relationships, according to a new study from Baylor University.

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard the term phubbing before. Most people haven’t.

Phubbing is a new term that has been created by Baylor University researchers to describe “the extent to which people use or are distracted by their cellphones while in the company of their relationship partners.”

The study confirms that when spending time with your significant other, if you ignore that person or give the perception that you are ignoring them — because you are frequently checking your mobile phone — they will feel snubbed, less important, and may even become depressed.

One of the co-authors of the study, James Roberts, stated that in situations where people became distracted by their cell phones, it created conflicts and resulted in “lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction”.

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.

According to Time, researchers created a scale to measure levels of phubbing, and polled 453 participants to obtain feedback on how phubbing impacted relationships. The participants would analyze the behavior of their significant other while in a social setting, and afterward they would answer a questionnaire to elaborate on how cell phone usage impacted their experience.

In order to gather this information, the study was comprised of two surveys.

The first survey queried 308 adults to identify behaviors specific cell phone snubbing. The research team used the results of this study to create a list of the nine most common perceived rude behaviors involving smartphones.

The list included items such as “My partner glances at his/her cellphone when talking to me” and “If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone”.

A second group of 145 adults involved in romantic relationships was asked to use the list to measure how much phubbing actually occurred when they were around their partner.

Baylor University reported that 46.3 percent of the participants felt pphubbed by their partner. Of those, a conflict rate of 22.6 percent and a depression rate of 36.6 percent was recorded.

The social study clearly illustrates one of the negative impacts of mobile technology, and shows that for some, the need to stay connected online is superseding the need to stay connected to the people physically around them.

Meredith David, another co-author of the study, stated that people underestimate the impact cell phone usage on their relationships, blowing it off as “not a big deal.”

In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal.

The results of the study, however, clearly show a correlation between cell phone usage and a dissatisfaction in relationships.

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