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Country Indicators Moderating the Relationship Between Phubbing and Psychological Distress: A Study in 20 Countries

  • Błachnio, Agata1
  • Przepiórka, Aneta1
  • Gorbaniuk, Oleg1
  • McNeill, Monika2
  • Bendayan, Rebecca3, 4
  • Durak, Mithat5
  • Senol-Durak, Emre5
  • Ben-Ezra, Menachem6
  • Benvenuti, Martina7
  • Angeluci, Alan8
  • Abreu, Ana Maria9
  • Makita, Meiko10
  • Blanca, María J.4
  • Brkljacic, Tihana11
  • Babič, Nenad Č.12
  • Gorbaniuk, Julia1
  • Holdoš, Juraj13
  • Ivanova, Ana1
  • Malik, Sadia14
  • Milanovic, Anita15
  • And 10 more
  • 1 Institute of Psychology, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin , (Poland)
  • 2 Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Department of Biostatistics and Health Informatics, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Department of Psychobiology and Methodology for Behavioral Sciences, University of Málaga, Málaga , (Spain)
  • 5 Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu , (Turkey)
  • 6 Ariel University, Ariel , (Israel)
  • 7 Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna , (Italy)
  • 8 Universidade Municipal de São Caetano do Sul, São Caetano do Sul , (Brazil)
  • 9 Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Institute of Health Sciences, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon , (Portugal)
  • 10 University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton , (United Kingdom)
  • 11 Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb , (Croatia)
  • 12 Department of Psychology, University of Maribor, Maribor , (Slovenia)
  • 13 Catholic University in Ružomberok, Ružomberok , (Slovakia)
  • 14 Department of Psychology, University of Sargodha, Sargodha , (Pakistan)
  • 15 Clinic for Mental Disorders “Dr Laza Lazarević”, Belgrade , (Serbia)
  • 16 Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade , (Serbia)
  • 17 Institute of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon , (Portugal)
  • 18 Albright College, Reading, PA , (United States)
  • 19 Faculty of Medicine, University of Mysore, Mysore , (India)
  • 20 Department of Cognition and Communication, Tilburg University, Tilburg , (Netherlands)
  • 21 Imec-mict-UGent, Ghent University, Ghent , (Belgium)
  • 22 Department of Psychology, University of Macau, Taipa , (China)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Dec 24, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.588174
  • Psychology
  • Original Research


Problematic mobile phone use can be related to negative mental states. Some studies indicate that behavioural dependency is related to variables associated with the country of origin. The aim of our study was to investigate if country indicators moderated the relationship between phubbing and psychological distress. Our sample consisted of 7,315 individuals from 20 countries, who completed the Phubbing Scale and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). The analyses also included country indicators: the Gender Gap Index (GGI), the Human Development Index (HDI), the Social Progress Index (SPI), Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, and the World Happiness Index (WHI). Our results showed that psychological distress was related to at least one dimension of phubbing (i.e., to communication disturbance or phone obsession) in all countries, which means this relationship is culturally universal. The results of the study demonstrate the importance of testing measurement invariance to determine what type of analysis and what type of conclusion are valid in a given study or comparison. Moreover, the increasing or decreasing correlation between phubbing and distress is related to some culture-level indices.

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