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Cell phones are playing larger roles in people’s lives every year. Research indicates that a majority of people check their phones at least once an hour and more people than ever report being addicted to their phone. In early 2012, an advertising agency began a campaign to stop people from looking at their phones during conversations. The agency named this habit “phubbing” because people were using the phones to snub others. Despite seeming relatively harmless, phubbing has complex psychological impacts, both on the giving and receiving ends.

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1. Lower Quality Conversations

One of the most notable impacts of phubbing is that it makes both conversational partners feel more negatively about a conversation and the relationship between them. A paper in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2018 had participants watch an animation and pretend that they were part of the conversation in the animation. Their animated conversational partner would then phub them extensively, partially, or not at all. Participants who were phubbed by their cartoon partner had the lowest quality and the worst relationship satisfaction, despite the conversations not actually occurring.

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