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The Relationship between Mobile Phone Norms and Phubbing Behavior

Smartphones are embedded in almost every part of an individual’s life. Even in co-present interactions, the handheld devices are used frequently. This inappropriate smartphone usage has been termed phubbing, compromising the words ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing’. Although being a worldwide phenomenon, little is known about what determines phubbing behavior in the first place.
Drawing on injunctive norms (i.e., what ought to be done), the study’s primary aim is to shed light on the relationship between etiquettes of how to use one’s phone in the presence of others, referred to as mobile phone norms (MPN), and phubbing behavior. Furthermore, based on today’s ‘always-on’ society, the moderation role of being permanently online/ permanently connected (POPC) and Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) are investigated. The motivation to be POPC is expressed through a constant vigilance towards one’s digital device and sufferers of FoMO want to constantly check online content in order not to miss out on online experiences.
The findings of a quantitative online survey (N = 278) show that MPN are negatively related to phubbing behavior. Therefore, it can be stated that individuals high in mobile phone norms tend to engage in phubbing less. However, no significant moderating role between POPC or FoMO on the norm-phubbing relationship could be observed. As the correlational design prevents causal claims, future studies should refine the present framework by applying experimental or longitudinal designs to delve deeper into these causal mechanisms.