The current abundance of technology in daily life creates opportunities for interruptions in couple interactions, termed technoference or phubbing. The current study examined reports from both partners in 173 romantic relationships who completed daily surveys on technoference and relational well-being measures across 14 days. By using daily diary data, we were able to examine within-person associations and more closely approximate everyday life. Utilizing multilevel modeling, we found that on days when participants rated more technoference than usual, they felt worse about their relationship, perceived more conflict over technology use, rated their face-to-face interactions as less positive, and experienced more negative mood. These relationships existed even after controlling for general feelings of relationship dissatisfaction, depression, and attachment anxiety, and there were no significant differences between women and men in these associations. This suggests that regardless of an individual’s or a couple’s current level of well-being, if individuals perceive technology use as interfering in their interactions with their partner, these perceptions may affect their daily assessments of their relationship and mood.
The majority of U.S. adults (95%) own and use cell phones, as well as other devices like computers and tablets (Pew Research Center, 2018). This abundance of technology creates opportunities for technological interruptions in couple interactions, termed technoference (McDaniel & Coyne, 2016a) or phubbing, a portmanteau of “phone” and “snubbing” (Roberts & David, 2016). Recently, a number of researchers have examined technoference among couples and found that technoference is common within romantic relationships, and higher rates of technoference are related to conflict, jealousy, and lower levels of relationship satisfaction, intimacy, and relational closeness/cohesion (Amichai-Hamburger & Etgar, 2016; Halpern & Katz, 2017; Krasnova, Abramova, Notter, & Baumann, 2016; McDaniel & Coyne, 2016a; McDaniel, Galovan, Cravens, & Drouin, 2018; Roberts & David, 2016; Wang, Xie, Wang, Wang, & Lei, 2017). Hence, technology use within the context of couple interactions has the potential to disrupt positive interactions and spur negative feelings and conflict, and conflict and anger have the potential to contribute to relationship dissolution (Gottman & Levenson, 2002). However, most of these previous studies have been cross-sectional and focused on individual-level (rather than couple-level) data. The current study expands this work by examining reports from both partners in romantic relationships who completed daily surveys on technoference and emotional and relational well-being measures across 14 days. By using daily diary data, we were able to examine within-person associations and more closely approximate life as it is lived (Bolger, Davis, & Rafaeli, 2003).