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Married people are better at small talk – because they aren’t glued to their phones like singetons are, new study shows


We’re all guilty of it. You’re standing at a party or work event and, instead of making an effort to speak to your peers, you get out your phone and start scrolling.

It is a phenomenon that has been coined ‘phubbing’ by social media users and researchers – a combination of phone and snubbing.

Now, a study has shed light on the type of people who are most likely to engage in this subtle anti-social behavior.

Research involving 461 20-somethings by social scientists at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in Lebanon found those least likely to ‘phub’ are married people, introverts and highly sensitive people.

Those prone to boredom and people who feel lonely were also guilty of dabbling in the behavior more often.

People who are married are far less likely to spend significant amounts of time on their phone as they typically don't feel as lonely as singletons, a new study suggests.

People who are married are far less likely to spend significant amounts of time on their phone as they typically don’t feel as lonely as singletons, a new study suggests.

The study authors note that, as phubbing is known to perpetuate loneliness, clinicians should identify those at risk and attempt to ‘moderate’ the behavior.

‘While dealing with psychiatric patients, healthcare professionals might be able to implement appropriate smartphone use habits, as this would help patients improve their social relationships,’ the authors wrote.

The study, published in the journal Healthcare, involved nearly 500 18-29 year-olds, 71 percent of who were female.  The vast majority – 91 percent – were single. 

Participants were asked to complete four tests – a mixture of questionnaires and psychometric tests – to measure a variety of personality traits, characteristics as well as propensity for boredom and loneliness.

One of the surveys measured phubbing behavior by asking a range of questions about how the respondent would act in certain social situations, including the amount of time they’re likely to spend on their phone.

They also had to say to what extend they agreed with certain statements such as, ‘I feel anxious if my phone is not nearby.’

Those with smartphone addiction are more likely to engage in 'phubbing' - which can impact social relationships, experts warn.

Those with smartphone addiction are more likely to engage in ‘phubbing’ – which can impact social relationships, experts warn.

The results highlighted a number of personality types that are more suseptible to ‘phubbing’, as well as those who are married. 

As for why this might be, the researchers suggested the explanation may lie in the fact married people are less lonely – and loneliness was shown to be a risk factor for phubbing.

They wrote: ‘While no previous literature has discussed this issue, it has been shown that married couples experience less loneliness and less boredom, as they are distracted by the responsibilities of being married and have probably filled the gap of loneliness by marriage.’

‘Phubbing’ was also suggested to be a method of occupying bored minds and making introverts – who typically don’t enjoy group situations – feel less isolated. 

In their report, the researchers also noted the well-evidenced link between problematic smartphone use (or addiction) and ‘phubbing’ – warning that the latter may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship with devices.

‘This issue [smartphone addiction] is correlated to negative emotionality, impulsivity, boredom proneness, dysregulated emotions, and sleep impairment,’ the authors wrote.

 A 2023 Canadian study suggested that some one in three people around the world are suffering smartphone addiction.

 The problem, which involves proritizing phone use above other tasks and important interactions, has been linked to damaging changes in brain function, sleep disorders and fatigue.

Experts recommend spending at least three to four hours of the day completely detatched from screens – including phones.



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