Connected by technology, empathetically disconnected: A correlational study into phubbing behaviour in Ireland
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Smartphones have transformed how we communicate (Leggett & Rossouw, 2014), however, our dependence on smartphones has become intrusive for many people (Ofcom, 2018). Phubbing (phone snubbing) has become a “normal” activity in society and has gained both academic and media attention (Roberts & David, 2016; Chotpitayasunondh & Douglas, 2016; Ducharme, 2018; Whiteman, 2018). Researchers fear smartphone use negatively impacts our relationship with other people, by cutting-off our face-to-face channels of communication and ability to empathise with others (Borba, 2016; Roberts & David, 2016; Turkle, 2017). The present study is the first to investigate the relationship between empathy and phubbing, and provides insight into Irish phubbing behaviour. 82 participants completed a combination of quantitative scales (The Generic Scale of Phubbing, The Generic Scale of Being Phubbed, the Single Item Trait Empathy Scale) and a number of qualitative items to provide their opinions towards phubbing. Results suggest age, gender, and self-isolation correlated significantly with empathy. Participants felt individuals phubbed as they feared being alone and were unaware of others’ feelings. Although individuals considered phubbing unacceptable, participants felt it had become normal in Irish society.
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