School of Communication Faculty Publish Article

We all know technology is greatly changing society. Dr. Robert Duran and Dr. Lynn Kelly looked at the effects of cell phones on romantic relationships. They spent a year collecting data and about a year and a half in the review and publication process. This past week they released their data.

Dr. Robert Duran is a professor in the school of communication and has been teaching at the University of Hartford for over 30 years. He teaches predominantly in the areas of interpersonal communication, family communication, small group communication, non-verbal communication, and in research methods.

“Society labels cell phones as electronic tethers and this proved to add more tension to a relationship”, Duran said. Duran says this relates to a theory in interpersonal communication called dialectical theory which states, relationships are about managing tensions. Technology, especially cell phones are altering relationships in one way or another which creates this need to balance time and tensions with family, friends, roommates, time one needs to their self, and with that special person.

During the course of their study Duran says that they found, “was that couples do have rules, that couples negotiate rules about cell phones. And it appears that there are about four or five rules that couples negotiate. One of the rules being, when to call and when not to call”.

The Rules Couples Created:

1. When to call and when not to call. Many negotiate a rule such as don’t call me before this time in the morning, and don’t call me after this time, or don’t call and text when at work or don’t call and text when in class.

2. ‘Spying’ & checking phone logs. Many couples wondered who their significant other was talking to on their phones and negotiated rules to be allowed to view their partner’s phone log.

3. When you can text and call when we’re together. Many couples created rules stating that when they are together, whether their getting dinner or going to a movie, they can’t call other people or they would have to put their phones on silent.

4. Returning calls and texts . Many couples created rules on how fast one should get back to the other. Many said if their significant other didn’t respond in a timely manner they assumed they were just being ignored or that their partner was probably doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

The second thing that they found in their study is that, the more rules a couple had in their relationship, the more conflict they had. Couples reported to resolve their fight by one of two strategies. Either they looked for a middle ground or went to an extreme and could not agree.

“I do think that technology has created, particularly cell phones has created a set of problems that didn’t exist before and this is the expectation that I can get a hold of you 24/7. They surveyed about 250 undergraduate students’ right here on campus. Duran says that this topic came to him one spring as he observed two guys casually talking. One guy pulled out his phone, looked at it and put it away. Suddenly, a young lady came rushing around the corner yelling at him saying, ‘I saw you check your phone, you knew I was calling and you didn’t pick up’. This was the spark of their study.