Cellphones can damage relationships, lead to depression

Washington, Sep 30: Cellphones are damaging romantic relationships and leading to higher levels of depression, a new US study has claimed.

Researchers from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business conducted two separate surveys, accounting for a total of 453 adults in the US, to learn the relational effects of 'Pphubbing' – or 'partner phone snubbing'.

mobile phone

Pphubbing was 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.

"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," said James A Roberts, The Ben H Williams Professor of Marketing.

"These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression," he said.

The first survey of 308 adults helped researchers develop a 'Partner Phubbing Scale,' a nine-item scale of common smartphone behaviours that respondents identified as snubbing behaviours.

The resulting scale included statements such as: 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; and if there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.

The second survey of 145 adults measured Pphubbing among romantic couples. This was done, in part, by asking those surveyed to respond to the nine-item scale developed in the first survey.

Other areas of measurement in the second survey included cellphone conflict, relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, depression and interpersonal attachment style (eg, "anxious attachment" describes people who are less secure in their relationship).

Results of the survey showed that 46.3 per cent of the respondents reported being phubbed by their partner and 22.6 per cent said this phubbing caused conflict in their relationships.

A total of 36.6 per cent reported feeling depressed at least some of the time and only 32 per cent of respondents stated that they were very satisfied with their relationship.

The research also found 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.

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, Roberts explained.


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