Phubbing (“phone” and “snubbing”) refers to snubbing a conversational partner when using the smartphone in his or her company. Phubbing is one kind of technology interference that includes any “interruptions in face-to-face conversations to the feelings of intrusion an individual experiences” (McDaniel and Coyne, 2016, p. 85) via technological devices in general such as computers, cell and mobile phones, tablets, game consoles or television. Owned by 3.4 billion users around the globe (Ericsson Mobility Report, 2015), smartphones have the strongest potential to intervene with interpersonal relationships. Antecedents of phubbing are rooted in the smartphone’s characteristics like multifunctionality, price affordability, portability, as well as in users’ perception of smartphones to be “fundamentally social” (Nass et al., 2015, p. 72), which develops a strong emotional attachment towards mobile phones and experience of “intimacy with their electronic devices” (McDaniel and Coyne, 2016, p. 87 after Turner and Turner, 2013; Vincent et al., 2005; Wehmeyer, 2007).
So far, previous studies have primarily reported unfavorable consequences of phubbing in the romantic context, establishing smartphones as the cause of conflict (e.g., Roberts and David, 2016), lower relationship satisfaction and reduced well-being (e.g. McDaniel and Coyne, 2016). Contributing to this stream of research, the primary goal of our research is to investigate the phenomenon of phubbing and its consequences in different contexts as well as to uncover the mechanism behind this detrimental dynamics.