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Detail of Paul Day's 2007 sculpture The Meeting Place, showing a woman looking at her mobile phone while in an embrace

Phubbing is the habit of snubbing a physically present person in favour of a mobile phone. In May 2012, as part of a linguistic experiment by Macquarie Dictionary, the advertising agency behind the campaign, McCann, had invited a number of lexicographers, authors, and poets to coin a neologism to describe the behaviour. The word "phubbing," a portmanteau of phone and snubbing, was first described by McCann Group Account Director Adrian Mills, who was working with David Astle.[1] The term has appeared in media around the world and was popularized by the Stop Phubbing campaign created by McCann.[2]

"Stop Phubbing" campaign[edit]

The Stop Phubbing campaign site, and related Facebook page, was part of an elaborate public relations effort designed to promote the Macquarie Dictionary of Australia.[3] In the media, the website was originally credited by an Australian university student named Alex Haigh, who had been interning at McCann and was subsequently hired.[4] A film, titled A Word is Born, describes the entire process and serves as an advertisement for the dictionary.[5]

In the media[edit]

The campaign was picked up by numerous media outlets, notably those in the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany. The press reported on surveys showing statistics of the number of the people "phubbing," and published etiquette guides.[6][7]


Research has shown that phubbing behavior can have implications on social interactions, affecting fundamental human needs and reducing affect, potentially leading to negative communication outcomes. The widespread use of smartphones in daily life has prompted social scientists to investigate its impact on social interactions.[8]

In October 2015, media outlets (such as Today[9] and Digital Trends[10]) reported on a study by James A. Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, that was published in the journal Computers In Human Behavior. The study consisted of two separate surveys of more than 450 U.S. adults to learn the relational effects of "phubbing" or partner phubbing. The survey found that 46.3 percent of respondents said their partners phubbed them, and 22.6 percent said it caused issues in their relationship.[9] In an interview with Yahoo! Health, Roberts said, "We found that the ones that reported higher partner phubbing fought more with their partner and were less satisfied with their relationship than those who reported less phubbing."[10] Another study, published in 2022, found that people who reported being phubbed by their partner tended to have reduced romantic relationship quality.[11]

Phubbing has become a normalized occurrence in social interactions and is associated with certain consequences. These include potentially poorer conversation quality and weaker interpersonal connections. Research has also indicated that phubbing behavior is linked to depression. Future research aims to explore the drivers of phubbing behavior and to develop strategies for addressing it.[12]

Phubbing has also been linked to type of problematic social media use, as well as pathological internet use.[13][14] This research suggests that phubbing may be a coping mechanism to help people to deal with their negative emotional states,[13][15] hence making phubbing addictive in nature, and damaging based on repeated and sustained use.[16] Phubbing has also been studied in relation to personality traits. Conscientiousness and neuroticism have been found to play a significant role in predicting phubbing behavior. Those with conscientious traits are less likely to display phubbing behavior, while individuals with neurotic traits are more likely to do so. The research suggests relationships between personality traits and phubbing.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mills A, Astle D (2017-01-03). "The first use of the word phubbing". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  2. ^ "Stop Phubbing". Stop Phubbing. Archived from the original on 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  3. ^ Pathak S (2013-10-07). "McCann Melbourne Made Up a Word to Sell a Dictionary | News - Advertising Age". Adage.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  4. ^ Chatfield T (2013-08-05). "The rise of phubbing - aka phone snubbing - Features - Gadgets & Tech". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  5. ^ "Phubbing: A Word is Born". YouTube. 2013-10-08. Archived from the original on 1 January 2014. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  6. ^ Hogan M (2013-09-13). "The 15 most annoying things about iPhones". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  7. ^ Steinmetz K (2013-08-06). "Why the 'Stop Phubbing' Campaign Is Going Viral". Techland.time.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  8. ^ Chotpitayasunondh, Varoth; Douglas, Karen M. (2018). "The effects of "phubbing" on social interaction". Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 48 (6): 304–316. doi:10.1111/jasp.12506. ISSN 0021-9029.
  9. ^ a b Holohan M (October 1, 2015). "Does your partner love his cellphone more than you? Take this survey". TODAY. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Chang L (October 3, 2015). "What is phubbing, and is it ruining your relationships?". Digital Trends. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  11. ^ Hedrih, Vladimir (2023-02-07). "People exposed to phubbing by their romantic partner are less satisfied with their romantic relationship". PsyPost. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  12. ^ Al-Saggaf, Yeslam; O'Donnell, Sarah B. (2019). "Phubbing: Perceptions, reasons behind, predictors, and impacts". Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies. 1 (2): 132–140. doi:10.1002/hbe2.137. ISSN 2578-1863.
  13. ^ a b Schivinski B, Brzozowska-Woś M, Stansbury E, Satel J, Montag C, Pontes HM (2020). "Exploring the Role of Social Media Use Motives, Psychological Well-Being, Self-Esteem, and Affect in Problematic Social Media Use". Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 617140. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.617140. PMC 7772182. PMID 33391137.
  14. ^ Davis RA (March 2001). "A cognitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use". Computers in Human Behavior. 17 (2): 187–195. doi:10.1016/S0747-5632(00)00041-8.
  15. ^ Kardefelt-Winther D (February 2014). "A conceptual and methodological critique of internet addiction research: Towards a model of compensatory internet use". Computers in Human Behavior. 31: 351–354. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.059.
  16. ^ Brailovskaia J, Margraf J, Köllner V (March 2019). "Addicted to Facebook? Relationship between Facebook Addiction Disorder, duration of Facebook use and narcissism in an inpatient sample". Psychiatry Research. 273: 52–57. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2019.01.016. PMID 30639564. S2CID 58618101.
  17. ^ Erzen, Evren; Odaci, Hatice; Yeniçeri, İlknur (2021). "Phubbing: Which Personality Traits Are Prone to Phubbing?". Social Science Computer Review. 39 (1): 56–69. doi:10.1177/0894439319847415. ISSN 0894-4393.