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Interpersonal communication has been transformed by the more than 70 percent of adults who own smartphones (Greenwood, Perrin & Duggan, 2016) and other forms of portable technology. It is now more convenient than ever to stay in touch, find lost friends, and access constantly updated information online, but research has linked mobile phone use to decreased relationship and interaction quality. For example, McDaniel and Coyne (2016) found that self-reported technology use among married couples predicted more partner conflict and less relationship satisfaction, particularly for women. Brown, Manago and Trimble (2016) found similar results in that the more friend dyads were observed using their mobile phones in each other’s presence, the lower they subsequently rated the quality of their interactions. Przybylski and Weinstein (2012) found that even the mere presence of a cell phone was linked to lower levels of trust, relationship quality, and perceived partner empathy among dyads instructed to talk about a meaningful topic. The current study addressed the call for more research on the links between computer mediated communication, relationships and well-being (Schiffrin, Edelman, Falkenstern & Stewart, 2010). Participants answered survey questions about five close relationships and completed standardized scales to measure cell phone use and other individual differences, including locus of control, subjective well-being and satisfaction with life. Results revealed a pattern across the five relationships; participants indicated that in-person communication was more common in family relationships than in romantic and friend relationships, in-person interactions were rated as more important than online interactions, and more in-person interactions predicted higher relationship quality scores. An external locus of control was significantly positively correlated with cell phone dependence and mobile phone usage, and predicted lower relationship quality, subjective well-being and satisfaction with life.



Thesis Comittee

Elizabeth Spievak (Thesis Advisor)

Teresa King

Nesa Wasarhaley

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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