Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Bridges, Ana J.

Reader

Zies, Brenda

Second Reader

Burris, Sidney, 1953-

Third Reader

Schulte, Stephanie

Abstract

Currently, the research concerning technology’s impact on couple’s communication is scarce. Although anecdotal evidence suggests mobile devices may be negatively impacting romantic couples’ communication and intimacy, to date, no research has been done that looks at how technological distractions, such as text messaging, impact couples. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact that distractions by mobile devices had on couples’ feelings of connectedness during a dyadic interaction focused on solving a specific relationship problem. Participants included 40 heterosexual couples who had been in a romantic relationship at least 6 months. Couples were randomly assigned to either a control group or an experimental group. All couples were asked to discuss a current problem in their relationship. Couples in the experimental group discussed their problems for 15 minutes while being constantly interrupted by text messages from the researcher, while couples in the control group were not interrupted. Both sets of couples completed measures assessing their relationship satisfaction, perceptions of the problem-solving interaction, perceptions of their ability to communicate, and the level of intimacy and commitment they experienced. Results of the experiment showed that mobile device distractions had no impact on men and women’s perceptions of communication, intimacy, or commitment. Correlational data showed an association between problematic (but not excessive) use of mobile devices (talking on cell phones, texting) and lower relationship satisfaction in men, but not in women. Although experimental data did not support the hypothesized relation between mobile device distraction and problematic dyadic interactions, correlational data suggest this association may exist and is worthy of additional investigation.

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