Being 'phubbed' frequently makes the offended parties seek affirmation in the likes and shares of social media.
'We're looking online for what we're not getting offline. It's a vicious cycle,' say researchers.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Turns out, people who are phone snubbed or 'phubbed' by others are often turning to their smartphones and social media to find acceptance.
Researchers Meredith David and James A Roberts found that the circle nearly completes itself as the offended parties frequently jump online to find affirmation in the likes and shares and positive comments of social media.
The research from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business investigated the relationship between phubbing, social media attachment, depression, anxiety and stress.
'When an individual is phubbed, s/he feels socially excluded, which leads to an increased need for attention. Instead of turning to face-to-face interaction to restore a sense of inclusion, study participants turned to social media to regain a sense of belonging,' said lead author David.
'Being phubbed was also found to undermine an individual's psychological well-being. Phubbed individuals reported higher levels of stress and depression,' she added.
'We're looking online for what we're not getting offline,' Roberts said. 'It's a vicious cycle.'
As part of their research, David and Roberts surveyed more than 330 people across two studies.
'Although the stated purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not,"' David said. 'Ironically, the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together has isolated us from these very same people.'
To counter the negative effects of smartphone use, the researchers advise consumers to establish 'smartphone-free' zones and times; establish social contracts (and penalties) regarding phone use with friends, family and co-workers; and downloading apps that track, monitor and control smartphone use.
'All this research into phubbing would be for naught, or only an interesting story, if not for the revelation that this type of behaviour can drive others' use of social media in an attempt to regain inclusion,' the researchers wrote.
'Additionally, such behaviour can also impact the well-being of affected individuals.'
The study is published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.