The Depressing Effect Of Cell Phones On Romance

Researchers from Baylor University have confirmed what some people in relationships may have suspected for awhile: Cell phones can damage romantic relationships and lead to depression.

The study was designed around two separate surveys which were given to 453 adults. A major factor of the research was to gain a better understanding of “pphubbing” or “partner phone snubbing.” Pphubbing is defined as the degree to which a person is distracted by their cell phone while spending time with their romantic partner.

Researchers observed that when a romantic partner “phubbed” another, conflict was created that led to lower levels of satisfaction in the relationship. As the dissatisfaction with the relationship grew so did levels of depression.

Partner Phubbing Scale

The first survey was designed to help researchers create a “Partner Phubbing Scale.” This scale had nine degrees covering the common smart phone behaviors that participants considered to be snubbing behaviors. 

The scale covered 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 or her cellphone when talking to me.
  • If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.

Researchers consider the development of this “Partner Phubbing Scale” to be significant because it sets Pphubbing as distinct from other social and behavioral phenomenons centered around cellphone usage such as partner’s cellphone involvement, cellphone conflict, and cellphone addiction. 

Depressing Statistics

The second survey was designed to measure how much Pphubbing occurred between couples in a romantic relationship. These results were built off the basis of the first survey which identified certain Pphubbing behaviors. The areas measured in the second survey included cellphone conflict, relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, depression, and interpersonal attachment style. The last item, relationship attachment style, refers to how people bond with their partners. One example of this is the “anxious attachment” style which requires constant assurance and feedback that the relationship is working well.

Survey results showed the following information:

  • 46.3 percent of participants reported being phubbed by their partner
  • 22.6 percent reported phubbing as a source of conflict in their relationship
  • 36.6 percent reported feeling depressed at least some of the time

In the final analysis, the study reported that just 36.6 percent of the participants surveyed felt very satisfied with their relationship.

Science, once again, has proven what we already know: If you want a happy relationship, put the cellphone away during quality time.

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