Why is ignoring someone socially acceptable?

Is it acceptable to ignore someone to use your phone?

Source: Thaninee Chuensomchit / shutterstock

Around 98 percent of people born between the late 1990s and the early 2000s own a smartphone and spend around four hours a day with it. They claim it is their most important possession (Young, 2017). Smartphones are more than just phones. They work more like mini computers. They contain our contacts, photos and bookmarked web pages and allow us to be in close contact with others. When we asked people why they used their smartphones, 77 percent said they used social media as the main reason and 62 percent said messaging was the main reason, suggesting that smartphones can be described as devices for facilitating relationship (Graff & Fejes, 2019).

No wonder, then, that people often pay good attention to their phones and, as a result, ignore the people around them. Such behavior has become known as "phubbing". This is an example of "phone" and "snubbing" and refers to the practice of using your phone in a social setting while ignoring someone in your company.

What causes people to phub?

One cause of phubbing could be the extent to which a person is addicted to the internet. Clearly, when a person becomes addicted to the internet, they will be motivated to use their smartphone more often, which is ultimately related to phubbing.

Second, phubbing can be related to that of a personMiss fear (FOMO) on conversations or events that may take place in a different location or in a different location. In order to alleviate any anxiety due to this fear of missing out, individuals are forced to constantly check their phones, which leads to phubbing.

Third, self-control seems to be something that could also be related to phubbing behavior. A phubber may not be able to control or even monitor the use of their smartphone. Phubbing is related to smartphone addiction, and people who are addicted to using their smartphone will use it even if it is dangerous or impolite, and hence phubbing would be too.

Varoth Chotpitayasunond and Karen Douglas from the University of Kent in the UK examined these three factors that could predict phubbing (Chotpitayasunondh & Douglas, 2016). Their study included 276 participants who completed the following measures:

  • The phubbing questionnaire, which measured the frequency and frequency of phubbing, ranged from less than once a day to four or more times a day. Phubbing and phubbing times, which ranged from less than 15 minutes to more than two hours, were also measured. Eventually the perceived social norms of phubbing were supplemented with elements such as "Do you think that phubbing behavior is typical of people around you?" Measured. and "Do you think phubbing is appropriate?"
  • Smartphone addiction scale with elements like: "I can't stand not having a smartphone", "Lack of planned work due to smartphone use", "People around me tell me that I use my smartphone too often. "
  • Internet addiction test with questions such as: "How often do you stay online longer than you intended?"; "How often do your grades or schoolwork suffer from the time you spend online?"; "How often do you make new relationships with other online users?"; and "How often do you lose sleep due to late night logins?"
  • Fear of missing the scale included things like, "I'm afraid others will have more rewarding experiences than me," "I fear my friends have more rewarding experiences than me," and "I worry when I find out my friends They have." Fun without me. "
  • Self-control scale, things like, "I'm good at resisting temptation", "I have a hard time breaking bad habits", and "I never allow myself to lose control".

What does phubbing predict?

First, the researchers found that self-regulation negatively predicted addiction to smartphones. In other words, the lower the self-control, the higher the smartphone addiction, while the higher the internet addiction and the fear of missing out on the positively predicted smartphone addiction. The higher the internet addiction and the more people fear that they will miss something, the greater their smartphone addiction is.

In terms of phubbing, they found a relationship between smartphone addiction and phubbing, which means that the more you depend on your smartphone, the more likely they are to get into phubbing. Similarly, they found a relationship between phubbing behavior and phubbing, which means that the more a person phubs, the more likely they are to engage in phubbing.

Is phubbing normal?

Perhaps the strangest finding, however, is that the more a person engages in phubbing and the extent to which they phubbing, the positive correlation with the extent to which people perceive phubbing as normal behavior. If you just look around a bar, coffee shop or restaurant, you will see people using their phones, ignoring their surroundings and the people around them. So has this behavior become normal and acceptable?

Is phubbing two-way?

The researchers in the current study suggest that phubbing occurs as a result of observing phubbing around us and through the phubbing itself. When we see and experience phubbing behavior around us, it becomes more likely that we will judge that behavior as socially acceptable. Phubbing yourself increases the likelihood of phubbing. When you are with someone and they pull out their phone, observing this behavior encourages us to mirror and copy it.

It appears that phubbing is changing the way we interact socially. However, more research is needed into how phubbing has affected the quality of social interactions. In addition, we need to know more about how people can phub. For example, is it okay to divide our attention between our phone and someone whose business we work for, or is it okay to engage in mutually agreed phubbing? Overall, phubbing seems to be on the rise and we need to better understand the implications.

Facebook photo credit: WAYHOME Studio / Shutterstock


Chotpitayasunondh, V. & Douglas, K. M. (2016) “How“ Phubbing ”Becomes the Norm: The Prehistory and Consequences of Snubbing on Smartphones“ Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 9-18.

Graff, M. G. & Fejes, F. (2019) “Attachment and Phubbing” In preparation.

Young, K. (2007). "98% of Generation Z own a smartphone." Retrieved from https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-day/98-percent-of-gen-z-own-a-smartphone/