PreprintPDF Available

What Smartphones, Ethnomethodology, and Bystander Inaccessibility Can Teach Us About Better Design?

Preprints and early-stage research may not have been peer reviewed yet.

Abstract and Figures

Smartphones, the ubiquitous mobile screens now normal parts of everyday social situations, have created a kind of ongoing natural experiment for social scientists. According to Garfinkel's ethnomethodology social action gets its meaning not only from its content but also through its context. Mobility, small screen size, and the habitual way of using smartphones ensure that, while offering the biggest variety of activities for the user, in comparison to other everyday items, smartphones offer the least cues to bystanders on what the user is actually doing and how long it might take. This 'bystander inaccessibility' handicaps shared understanding of the social context that the user and collocated others find themselves in. Added considerations and interactive effort in managing the situation is therefore required. Future design needs to relate to this basic building block of collocated interaction to not be met with discontent.
Content may be subject to copyright.
What Smartphones, Ethnomethodology, and Bystander
Inaccessibility Can Teach Us About Better Design?
Eerik Mantere12
1 Tampere University, Kalevantie 4, 33100 Tampere, Finland
2 Université de Bordeaux, 3 ter Place de la Victoire, 33076 Bordeaux, France
Abstract. Smartphones, the ubiquitous mobile screens now normal parts of eve-
ryday social situations, have created a kind of ongoing natural experiment for
social scientists. According to Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology social action gets
its meaning not only from its content but also through its context. Mobility, small
screen size, and the habitual way of using smartphones ensure that, while offering
the biggest variety of activities for the user, in comparison to other everyday
items, smartphones offer the least cues to bystanders on what the user is actually
doing and how long it might take. This ‘bystander inaccessibility’ handicaps
shared understanding of the social context that the user and collocated others find
themselves in. Added considerations and interactive effort in managing the situ-
ation is therefore required. Future design needs to relate to this basic building
block of collocated interaction to not be met with discontent.
Keywords: Smartphones, Ethnomethodology, Collocated Interaction.
1 Introduction and Background
In United States 81% owns a smartphone [1] and they are routinely used in the presence
of others. How this impacts relationships with collocated others regularly hits the head-
lines [2][3]. Previous research suggests various negative effects. Smartphone use can
be distracting and undermine the benefits of social interactions [4], which have previ-
ously found to be so crucial to psychological well-being [5]. Although often aiming for
connection with distant others, interactions online do not provide the same sense of
social support as collocated interactions [6]. Being distracted in collocated interactions
due to smartphone use therefore seems like an ill-chosen trade-off.
An Australian dictionary jumped on the idea by coming up with a new word for the
phenomenon. “Phubbing” is defined at their marketing campaign’s website site as “the
act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying
attention” [7]. Researchers got on board with the term and phubbing has since been
found to reduce communication quality and relationship satisfaction by reducing the
feelings of belongingness and positive affect [8], make both phubbers and the phubbed
to be more likely to see phubbing as an inevitable social norm [9], and be thought of as
badby young people, even if they are doing it themselves [10]. “Partner phubbing”
has further been found to reduce relationship satisfaction by creating conflicts over cell
phone use [11] and cause depression in China for couples married more than seven
years [12]. A validated scale to measure phubbing has also been developed [13] and the
capacity to predict phubbing risk has been pursued by forming a model constituting of
communication disturbances and phone obsession [14]. One should not then be sur-
prised then that an article in the New York Times portrayed phubbing as if the term was
developed by psychologists [15].
Not wanting to discredit the previous work, three points should be noted of their
similar methodologies and the gap they fail to fill. First, though they study the social
situation, they do not directly describe it, but rather produce second level constructs of
it [16]. Research participants have produced numeric or verbal accounts of imagined or
previously lived situations. These are then used to make a scientific accountsnow
two levels distanced from the phenomenon they aim to depict. Second, when directly
observing social situations, they rely on a priori chosen qualities of interaction. Re-
searchers observing social behavior then code it in regard to these qualities in order to
use them as indicators in seeking relevance between them and general social categories
like age or gender [25]. Third, none of them spring from a theoretical understanding of
social action. Harold Garfinkel pointed out the problems of theories that rely on inter-
nalization of society’s norms and found ethnomethodology (EM) to study how people
themselves in everyday situations construct meaning and make and interpret social typ-
ifications as relevant. EM has quickly gained more and more ground as the theory of
social action and has given birth to conversation analysis (CA), now considered the
principal way to study verbal and non-verbal interaction alike [16] [17] [18] [19] [20].
Though EM/CA literature covers a wide range of interactive contexts, research on
spontaneous individual smartphone use in social situation is practically non-existent.
One of the most closely related EM/CA studies looked at how smartphone use while
driving is interleaved with traffic light stops. Users were looking for moments when the
affordances of the phone’s interface co-constructed transition relevant places with the
activities of the user. In these moments a possible shift in orientation between
smartphone use and other activities is sequentially made most available. The regularity
in which the interface makes these moments possible was considered a central theme
in organizing multiactivity with smartphone use and other concurrent activities [21].
Another study of using public transport found gaze shifts away from the phone to be
organized in relation to the sequential progression of the activity with the device. Be-
ginning stages of phone use were suggested to be especially sequentially engaging but
the methodology used and the level of granularity of the analyzes lacked the possibility
to describe the interactive practices of in their sequential contexts [22].
A study focusing on the use of a map applications found people sequentially organ-
izing their phone use with actions like unilateral stopping, turning, and restarting, while
walking together in public places. Again, phone use was found to have its own sequen-
tial progression which, then was interleaved with that of the concurrent social activities
of the physical environment [23]. The most relevant EM/CA work on smartphone use
and collocated interaction addresses phone use in pubs [24]. It does introduce and ex-
plore the topic but does not exhaust neither a single episode of interaction, nor describe
any putative practice taking place in various interactions, to a satisfactory degree from
the point of view of CA. Similarly, it does not make real use of the theoretical offer of
EM. I encourage looking at smartphone use in social situation with a viewpoint rooted
in EM, and adding in CA analysis, in order to understand how phone use may be con-
structed as unacceptable, and to find inspiration for more socially acceptable design.
2 Social Theory and Indexicality
Goffman [25] defined the social situation as an „environment of mutual monitoring
possibilities, anywhere within which an individual will find himself accessible to the
naked senses of all others who are ¨present,¨ and similarly find them accessible to him.“
All speaking and gesturing in face-to-face interaction takes place in the social situation
and he emphasized the importance of the physical setting in any analysis of them. Even
more than Goffman, Harold Garfinkel saw the context of interaction to be central in
what the interaction itself means [16] [18]. Let us consider the following example:
I’m sorry
The phrase seems to clearly convey an apology. We might imagine that the person ut-
tering the words feels regretful and elucidate how each of the words, I am sorry,
convey something that together constitute an apology. We might reflect on how it dif-
fers from the more casual “sorry ‘bout that”, and we might even say that this apologiz-
ing seems humble and empathetic. But what if we added a context:
I got my diploma from the University of Honolulu
I’m sorry
Now the phrase “I’m sorry” doesn’t seem so kind. This example shows how the same
practice of “apologizing” can be used to do different thingsone of them teasing. As
the immediate social context changes, the meaning of the action changes too. Before
Garfinkel, ‘indexicality’ was considered as a character only of words like “this”, “here”
or “now”words that point, or index, a context in acquiring their meaning. Garfinkel
planned a series of breaching experiments to claim that actually all human action is
understood as indexing the context it takes place in. If people encounter behavior that
is not designed in relation to the commonly shared situation, they feel awkward and
severely challenged in knowing how to proceed. Whatever is done, through words or
otherwise, always gets interpreted through what is seen as the shared understanding of
the situation that the action takes place in [16] [18].
Garfinkel further proposed that this understanding was not only his, but people con-
ducting their everyday lives actually orient to each other as accountable in entering
social situations with the assumption that it is common knowledge [18]. This
knowledge is not rooted in detached reflection of the deep nature of social action. He
does not suggest that all members of society passed sleepless nights in understanding
the core concepts of ethnomethodology. Rather, in interacting with one another, a gen-
eral thesis of interchangeability of perspectives is at work. To put it simply, people
assume that what they see as relevant in a situation is seen relevant by others in the
same situation. This is crucial for being able to trust to the shared understanding of the
social situation as “good enough” for interaction to be meaningful. If we could not trust
that we and another person have at least “good enough” match in understanding what
is going on, we could not trust that anything we say or do in the situation would be
understood as we would like it to be understood.
3 Bystander Inaccessibility
The participants of a social situation who start to use a smartphone, to a large extent
stop giving hints of the goals of their actions to collocated others. Others can less often
than is the case with other devices, infer from the posture and movements of the user,
or from the shape and state of the smartphone, what the user is currently doing. The
lack of visual and auditive cues to the bystander, the mobility of the device, bigger
amount of variation in the types of actions possibilitie, than is the case with any other
device, and the varied temporal organizations of the different smartphone activities are
responsible of keeping some crucial aspects about the smartphone user’s activity hidden
to the person in their immediate vicinity:
I. Phase of action (e.g. preparatory phase, execution phase, or being already close to
terminating the action)
II. Category of action (e.g. entertainment, work, information seeking, or communi-
Not knowing what the activity of the smartphone user is, the other participants in the
social situation are also in the dark about the “good enough” knowledge about nature
of the situation as a whole. I call this bystander inaccessibility (BI). Imagine you want
to ask something mundane of your partner, let’s say, if she has gotten the mail. The
mailbox is just outside, and you could easily check it yourself, but you would prefer
not getting out of the house in vain. You see your partner sitting on the sofa, absorbed
in their phone. Now if you would know that they are responding to an important work
email, you might leave them alone and check the mail yourself. But if they were just
scrolling a friend’s Facebook feed, you might feel at ease to interrupt them. Being in
the dark about the activity they are engaged in, you are also unable to know what your
planned communicative action, “have you checked the mail?”, would signify to them.
It works the other way around as well. This is exemplified in the following data
excerpt. Clo and Liz are eating out and exchanging funny stories together with a friend.
Excerpt 1.
[overlapping speech]
>faster speech<
(0.9) silence in tenth of seconds
(.) noticeable silence of maximum 0.3 seconds
.mt smacking of the mouth
@transformed speech, e.g. when quoting someone@
ºspoken silentlyº
the- the production of the word is halted suddenly
((Clo is using her phone while talking))
64 Clo: [>Nii nimeonomaa<] (.) ja sit vielä se ku tota noin ni toi
[>Yeah exactly<] (.) and then also that when you know that
65 (0.9) .mt ((Clo stops typing and puts left hand to her face))
66 (0.2) ((Clo continues to gaze at the phone))
67 Clo: öö iskä >oli sillee< [@↑nii joo mä muistan kun Niina
umm dad >was like< [@oh yeah I remember when Niina
68 Liz: [ºmä katon ton
[ºI’ll check th-º ((picks up her phone))
Clo is starting to tell a story that continues the theme of previous stories that night.
While doing this she pauses (line 65, 66) and utilizes filler words (lines 6467) before
actually getting the story going (line 67). Before her turn she was using her phone.
While beginning the telling at line 67, she is still looking at it. Liz is listening, gazing
at Clo, and sees all this taking place. While Clo is struggling while visibly distributing
her attention between two activitiestelling a story and using her phoneshe is also
putting Liz in a difficult position. Clo has already prefaced her story and gained a silent
“permission” from the group to occupy a speaker position for a longer duration than
normal, i.e. until the story is finished. Therefore other participants are normatively re-
stricted to the position of recipient. When regardless of this, Clo still does not put her
full attention to the activity of telling the story, and is faltering in beginning the story,
the next activities, being indexical, connect in their meaning also to this event.
When Liz begins to use her phone at line 68, BI makes Clo unable to automatically
see the type and the goal of Liz’s phone use. In this context it therefore risks being
interpreted as motivated by dissatisfaction with the haphazard way Clo begun her re-
sponsibilities as a storyteller. Considering Goffman’s [26] face-work and the normative
ways we protect the faces of ourselves, as well as other people from straightforward
criticism, it is understandable that Liz chooses to counter this potentially face-threaten-
ing interpretation. She provides an account: “I’ll check the-at line 68. Interestingly,
she does not actually specify the activity she will commence with the phone, but in
providing the account, she nevertheless hints that there is something to be “checked”
and the reason for her staring to use the phone could be in this “checking”, rather than
in the faltering conversational performance of Clo. To conclude, as BI hides Liz’s ac-
tivity from Clo, Liz has to produce an account to circumvent this lack. Providing this
account in a sequentially appropriate manner encumbrances a very limited resource in
the context of being a recipient to verbal storytelling: audible speech.
Fig. 1. Respondents identified with the person speaking and rated A and B in random order.
BI -instigating technology (BI-tech) also makes it harder for collocated others to inter-
pret responses, or lack of them, by a BI-tech user. Our study using role playing method
and comic strips found most respondents more irritated when trying to unsuccessfully
get the attention of a phone-using person, while no respondents evaluated the newspa-
per -condition as more irritating (p<0.001). Furthermore, the written responses often
included descriptions on being bothered by not knowing what the phone user was ac-
tually doing [27].
4 Conclusion
Designing socially acceptable technology should be informed by ethnomethodological
study on the device’s effect on social situation. What people do or do not accept is the
way technology enters into the situation as part of the network of social activities. When
engaged in technology use, a crucial aspect of it is that the activity is part of constituting
the shared social reality that then gives meaning also to all the other activities of eve-
ryone else present in the situation. All their decisions to act or not to act are impacted
by their understanding of what the technology use is about and whether they can trust
that other participants see the situation similarly. There should be more work on design
instigating affordances for collocated others to see, hear, or feel the nature of the tech-
nology use taking place in a social setting [28]. Crucially, I call for interdisciplinary
work that benefits from EM/CA methodology to develop and test new prototypes. BI-
tech handicaps participants in social encounters. While people find ways to circumvent
it, the plethora of research reporting dislike of smartphone use in social situation sug-
gests they would prefer to avoid these challenges. Interactional work and designing non
face-threatening actions takes effort, and people do not like to be forced to make effort.
1. Taylor, K., & Silver, L.: Smartphone Ownership Is Growing Rapidly Around the World, but
Not Always Equally. Pew Research Center, (2019).
2. Ducharme, J.: “Phubbing” Is Hurting Your Relationships. Here’s What It Is. TIME, (2018).
3. Molina, B.: Do smartphones keep us in or out of touch?: Devices often isolate, distract and
disrupt acting with others. USA TODAY, (2017).
4. Dwyer, R. J., Kushlev, K., & Dunn, E. W.: Smartphone use undermines enjoyment of face-
to-face social interactions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 78, 233239 (2018).
5. Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L.: A New Look at Social Support: A Theoretical Perspective
on Thriving Through Relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review 19(2), 113
147 (2014).
6. Kim, J.-H.: Smartphone-mediated communication vs. face-to-face interaction: Two routes
to social support and problematic use of smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior 67,
282291 (2017).
7. Stop Phubbing Website,, last accessed 2019/3/22.
8. Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. M.: The effects of “phubbing” on social interaction.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology 48(6), 304316 (2018b).
9. Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. M.: How “phubbing” becomes the norm: The ante-
cedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior 63,
9–18 (2016).
10. Aagaard, J.: Digital akrasia: a qualitative study of phubbing. AI and Society, 1–8 (2019).
11. Roberts, J. A., & David, M. E.: My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone:
Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Hu-
man Behavior, 54(Journal Article), 134141 (2016).
12. Wang, P., Wang, X., Wang, Y., Xie, X., & Lei, L.: Partner phubbing and depression among
married Chinese adults: The roles of relationship satisfaction and relationship length. Per-
sonality and Individual Differences 110, 1217 (2017).
13. Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. M.: Measuring phone snubbing behavior: Develop-
ment and validation of the Generic Scale of Phubbing (GSP) and the Generic Scale of Being
Phubbed (GSBP). Computers in Human Behavior 88, 517 (2018a).
14. Guazzini, A., Duradoni, M., Capelli, A., & Meringolo, P.: An explorative model to assess
individuals’ phubbing risk. Future Internet 11(1), 2134 (2019).
15. Roose, K.: Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain. New York
Times (2019).
16. Garfinkel, H.: Studies in ethnomethodology. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1967).
17. Goodwin, C.: Conversational organization: interaction between speakers and hearers. Aca-
demic Press, New York (1981).
18. Heritage, J: Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Polity Press, Cambridge (1984).
19. Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R.: Conversation analysis: principles, practices and applications.
Polity Press, Cambridge (1998).
20. Mondada, L: Multimodal resources for turn-taking: pointing and the emergence of possible
next speakers. Discourse Studies 2(9), 194225 (2007).
21. Licoppe, C., & Figeac, J.: Gaze Patterns and the Temporal Organization of Multiple Activ-
ities in Mobile Smartphone Uses. Human-Computer 33(5–6), 311334 (2018).
22. Figeac, J., & Chaulet, J.: Video-ethnography of social media apps’ connection cues in public
settings. Mobile Media & Communication 6(3), 407427 (2018).
23. Laurier, E., Brown, B., McGregor, M.: Mediated Pedestrian Mobility: Walking and the Map
App. Mobilities 11(1), 117134 (2016).
24. Porcheron, M., Fischer, J., & Sharples, S.: Using Mobile Phones in Pub Talk. Proceedings
of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Compu-
ting, 16491661. ACM (2016).
25. Goffman, E.: The Neglected Situation. American Anthropologist 66(6), DEC136. (1964).
26. Goffman, E.: Interaction ritual: essays on face-to-face behavior. Aldine, Chicago (1967).
27. Raudaskoski, S., Mantere, E., & Valkonen, S.: Älypuhelin ja kasvokkaisen vuorovai-
kutuksen muuttuvat käytänteet. Sosiologia (accepted for publication) (2019).
28. Ens, B., Grossman, T., Anderson, F., Matejka, J., & Fitzmaurice, G.: Candid Interaction:
Revealing Hidden Mobile and Wearable Computing Activities. Proceedings of the 28th An-
nual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology, 467476. (2015).
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Älypuhelimen käyttö on lisääntynyt nopeasti. Se on henkilökohtainen esine ja kulkee yleensä aina mukana. Siksi sen käyttö voi sijoittua keskelle melkein mitä tahansa vuorovaikutuskontekstia, varsinkin kun laite usein myös kutsuu äänen, värinän tai visuaalisten efektien avulla omistajaansa. Jatkuvasti käsillä olevat älypuhelimet ovat vaikuttaneet myös kasvokkaisen keskustelun käytänteisiin. Tarkastelemme artikkelissamme, miten älypuhelinten käyttö muokkaa samaan aikaan tapahtuvaa kasvokkaista vuorovaikutusta ja millaisia uusia aspekteja se siihen tuo. Olemme luoneet kaksi uutta käsitettä kuvaamaan näitä aspekteja: 1) tahmea medialaite ja 2) sivustakatsojan pimento. Tahmea medialaite kuvastaa tilanteita, joissa älypuhelinta käyttävää henkilöä on hankala saada mukaan tai pitää mukana kasvokkaisessa keskustelussa. Hänen huomionsa ei helposti irtoa ”tahmeasta” laitteesta, tai se palaa siihen nopeasti takaisin. Sivustakatsojan pimennolla tarkoitamme sitä, että sivustakatsojan on vaikea tietää, mitä älypuhelimen käyttäjä pieniruutuisella laitteellaan tekee tai sitä, missä vaiheessa tekeminen on ja onko hänen toimintaansa soveliasta keskeyttää. Tutkimuksemme perustuu etnometodologiaan ja etnometodologiseen vuorovaikutuksen analyysiin, mutta sovellamme tutkimuksissamme myös eläytymismenetelmää ja kvantitatiivisia tutkimusmenetelmiä.
Full-text available
Phubbing could be defined as a new form of addiction; however, checking the phone and ignoring the speaker could also be linked to the increased availability of virtual social environments. We developed a multidimensional model for phubbing considering psychological dimensions and information and communication technology related habits. We collected data through online questionnaires and surveys. The best model obtained from our data was constituted by Information and Communication Technologies’ (ICTs) usage behaviours, Trait Anxiety, Virtual Sense of Community and Neuroticism. Finally, our study confirmed a strong connection between phubbing and online addiction behaviours.
Full-text available
The present article focuses on the issue of ignoring conversational partners in favor of one’s phone, or what has also become known as phubbing. Prior research has shown that this behavior is associated with a host of negative interpersonal consequences. Since phubbing by definition entails adverse effects, however, it is interesting to explore why people continue to engage in this hurtful behavior: Are they unaware that phubbing is hurtful to others? Or do they simply not care? Building on interviews with students in a Danish business college, the article reveals a pronounced discrepancy in young people’s relationship to phubbing: While they emphatically denounce phubbing as both annoying and disrespectful, they readily admit to phubbing others. In other words, they often act against their own moral convictions. Importantly, participants describe this discrepancy as a result of an unintentional inclination to divert attentional engagement. On the basis of these results, the article develops the notion of digital akrasia, which can be defined as a tendency to become swept up by ones digital devices in spite of better intentions. It is proposed that this phenomenon may be the result of bad technohabits. Further implications are discussed.
Full-text available
This paper aims to analyze the uses of mobile social network services (mSNS) during daily commutes on the basis of a video ethnography conducted with 35 users of the Facebook app. This method is based on the combination of context-oriented recordings made with user-worn camera glasses and mobile screen video capture. These data reveal the way smartphone usage patterns tend to be organized according to notification functions (mSNS, SMS), a specific set of technical cues that mediatize social demand and promote social connectedness. Users manage these cues through a recurrent trend composed of a three-step sequence: they often start by using applications displaying notifications; they favor those that display social demands; and, among them, they prioritize these relational solicitations in accordance with social status or types of relationships. By examining the distribution of users’ attention between urban environments and smartphone applications, this video-ethnography also highlights how these “checking habits” are organized according to a set of spatial cues and some daily commute characteristics, such as visual coordination with passengers in public transport. These technical cues mediatize a growing number of social demands that encourage users to keep their eyes focused on their smartphone’s screen in public spaces. We argue that these technical cues create a temporary bubble effect and social isolation at a proximal scale, which mostly operate at the beginning of smartphone usage patterns.
Full-text available
This research experimentally investigated the social consequences of "phubbing"-the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one's mobile phone. Participants viewed a three-minute animation in which they imagined themselves as part of a dyadic conversation. Their communication partner either phubbed them extensively, partially, or not at all. Results revealed that increased phubbing significantly and negatively affected perceived communication quality and relationship satisfaction. These effects were mediated by reduced feelings of belongingness and both positive and negative affect. This research underlines the importance of phubbing as a modern social phenomenon to be further investigated.
Full-text available
we have analyzed the temporal organization of gaze switches (to and away from the mobile screen) of mobile smartphone users in urban environments, and we discuss how such patterns of gaze switches can help us understand how users jointly manage mobile communication as well as other activities in everyday urban settings. more specifically, we report on the findings of an empirical study of smartphone use in transport situations, in which we have combined video recordings made with user-worn camera glasses with mobile screen capture data. first we show how being oriented towards multi-activity appears as a particular form of attunement to the potential sequential implicativeness of events occurring on screen or in the mobility environment, i.e. the possibility to treat them as possible occasions to switch the orientation of one’s gaze from one activity-relevant field of activity to another. second we discuss how interfaces with a ‘rugged’ sequential texture, that is one which frequently offers such sequential opportunities, might be especially useful in multi-activity situations in public places, where balancing the demands of two or more activities may constitute a serious moral and/or safety concern.
Ignoring and being ignored by others in favor of a smartphone is a common feature of everyday communication. However, little research has examined this phenomenon known as phubbing and even less research has determined how to measure it. This paper reports the results of six studies designed to develop and validate the Generic Scale of Phubbing (GSP) to assess phubbing behavior, and the Generic Scale of Being Phubbed (GSBP) to assess the experience of being phubbed. After reducing and refining items with the assistance of expert panels, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to further reduce the number of items and finalize the scales. Finally, the psychometric properties of both scales were examined. Data from 1836 respondents from the general public were recruited from six online surveys (N = 352, 333, and 224 for the GSP; N = 358, 341, and 228 for the GSBP). The four-factor 15-item GSP and the three-factor 22-item GSBP were developed and revealed good construct validities, criterion validities, convergent validities, discriminant validities, internal consistency reliabilities, and test-retest reliabilities.
Using a field experiment and experience sampling, we found the first evidence that phone use may undermine the enjoyment people derive from real world social interactions. In Study 1, we recruited over 300 community members and students to share a meal at a restaurant with friends or family. Participants were randomly assigned to keep their phones on the table or to put their phones away during the meal. When phones were present (vs. absent), participants felt more distracted, which reduced how much they enjoyed spending time with their friends/family. We found consistent results using experience sampling in Study 2; during in-person interactions, participants felt more distracted and reported lower enjoyment if they used their phones than if they did not. This research suggests that despite their ability to connect us to others across the globe, phones may undermine the benefits we derive from interacting with those across the table.
Although relationship satisfaction has been shown to play an important role in married adults' depression, it is less clear whether partner phubbing can undermine relationship satisfaction and increase the risk of depression. The current study investigated the indirect effect of partner phubbing on depression via relationship satisfaction and the moderating role of relationship length in this indirect effect. Two hundred forty-three married Chinese adults participated in the study. The results indicated that partner phubbing had a negative effect on relationship satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction had a negative effect on depression. Partner phubbing had an indirect positive impact on depression via relationship satisfaction, and this indirect effect only existed among those married more than seven years. Results indicate that partner phubbing is a significant risk factor for depression among those married more than seven years.