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Parker Sauvageau

Communication Research Methods

The Importance of Cell Phone Communication Between Genders

Juliet Evusa

Spring 2016


This research explores the levels of importance in cell phone communication

between males and females. Due to an increase in cell phone usage, this
research is important in understanding what gender is using their cell phone
the most and whether or not it is considered an important aspect of
communication. A survey given to 76 participants showed that females tend
to communicate on their cell phones more than males.

The Importance of Cell Phone Communication Between Genders

The purpose of this study is to examine how the importance of cell

phone communication differs between males and females. This subject is
important due to the fact that more communication is being done through
cell phones and understanding the basics of this helps explain why this
phenomenon is happening. The hypothesis concerning the research is: males
spend less time on their cell phone than females, but think cell phone
communication is critical to maintaining relationships. The primary method
used to conduct this research was a 17 question survey consisting of
multiple choice, Likert-scale, and one open ended question. The results
showed that females tend to spend more time communicating on their cell
phones, but find cell phones to be equally important in comparison to the
male sample population.

Literature Review

Robert L. Duran, Lynne Kelly, and Teodora Rotaru discuss phone use
within romantic relationships among college students. Their article titled,
Mobile Phones in Romantic Relationships and the Dialectic of Autonomy
Versus Connection, focuses on the relationship between autonomy and
connection within the relationship. The research was done through, self-
reported measures of rules for cell phone use (Duran, Kelly, & Rotaru,
2011, p. 19). The findings were that cell phone use contributed to higher
levels of relational tension, because of issues with calling or texting the
opposite sex.

210 participants were pulled from a small, private, eastern university.

The sample included 145 women and 65 men with the average age being
20.62. The survey was only to be completed if the student had been in a
romantic relationship ranging from causal to serious. The majority of the
relationships noted were exclusive and serious. The participants completed a
three-part survey: part one was demographic related questions; part two had

two Likert-scale measures, and part three consisted of open-ended

questions. The Likert-scale was a 5-point scale used to assess the perception
of rules and their use as well as the importance of their phone within the

The research conducted in this text used scales and analytical methods
similar to most phone communication studies. The use of scaled questions
not only helped accomplish the necessary results, but it may have engaged
the participant to think more thoroughly about the open ended questions in
the third part. Further emphasizing the point about the open-ended
questions, the participants were then able to pin point certain elements of
conflict in their relationships because the questions were engaging. Through
the connection between the dependent variable (quality of time, freedom,
and control or partner), and the independent variable (availability, call time,
and satisfaction), the method of testing was successful.

Following suit, Mobile Communication in Romantic Relationships:

Mobile Phone Use, Relational Uncertainty, Love, Commitment, and
Attachment Styles, written by Bora Jin & Jorge F. Pea examines the use of
cell phones in connection to intimacy and attachment within a relationship.
Though the findings were somewhat inconclusive, the report showed that
more phone calls generally signaled an increase in positive relationship

The research consisted of 200 communication students at a large

Southwestern university. The final sample consisted of 60 males and 137
females totaling 197 between the ages of 18 to 34. The study surveyed
students asking questions about time and frequency of phone use. To asses
the three points of research (Relational uncertainty, Love and commitment,
and attachment styles), Jin and Pea used different Likert-scale models
ranging from a 6-point scale to a 9-point scale. Correlation analyses was
used to examine the hypothesis presented. Hypothesis one stated, greater
voice call use would be associated with less relational uncertainty including

self, partner, and relationship dimensions (Jin & Pea, 2010, p. 45). This
hypothesis was confirmed. However, another hypothesis about texting and
reduction of uncertainty was not supported by the findings.

The design and method were appropriate for the research being
conducted. However, there seemed to be limitations, which affected the
results. For instance, the primitive measure of phone use by self-reporting
individuals. The research done adhered well to the theory. The direct
hypothesis presented helped accomplish methodology in the research.
Though not all of the questions were confirmed, the insight into the subject
of phone communication in relationships further builds upon existing theories
making this research significant. As stated previously, though the conclusion
did not prove the initial hypothesis, the conclusion exhibits sound reasoning.
Each of the elements researched were done in a manner that enabled the
results to be transparent.

Straying away from previously researched content over romantic

relationships and cell phone communication, Robert S. Weisskirch examines
the parent-adolescent interaction while using cell phones for communication
in his article titled, No Crossed Wires: Cell Phone Communication in Parent-
Adolescent Relationships. The aspects focused on in the article are
parenting, self-esteem, and self-efficiency. The results showed that parents
noticed more closeness when adolescents initiated the calls, while
adolescents reported increased conflict when parents called to check in. Calls
from parents discussing positive matters were generally seen positively, but
adolescents often saw calls from parents pertaining to disciplinary actions

The study used 196 parent-adolescent dyads varying in gender

relations. The parents ages ranged from 25 to 66 years. The adolescents
ages ranged from 13 to 19. The methods used to measure the research were
a Likert-scale 5-point rating measuring how often an adolescent would call
his or her parent in 18 different situations. Parents used the same method of

the Likert-scale but answered 23 questions pertaining to phone use in

parenting situations. Additionally, to measure self-esteem, the research
incorporated The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale using a 4-point scale. Lastly,
another scale to measure adolescent family process is used with a 5-point
Likert-scale. The conclusion found that although using phones is an easy way
of communicating, it may not be the most efficient or may even negatively
effect the relationship.

The design and method used seemed to apply well to the subject
matter. With the evaluation being broken into the three different levels of
satisfaction, it enabled more applicable conclusions to be drawn. Though
open-ended questions may have enabled deeper understanding in the
subject, the methods used were effective in connecting the initial theory to
the results. This research is very significant because it provides insight into
how parents perceive their children respond to either positive conversations
or negative parental guidance. The conclusion supported the initial theories
and opinions and was backed by the research. There was very little contrary
evidence presented or found.

The connection between academic performance and cell phone use is

examined in the article, The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and
Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students, which was
conducted by Andrew Lepp, Jacob E. Barkley, and Aryn C. Karpinski. The
primary measurement for academic performance was the student grade
point average (GPA). The study concluded that cell phone use did effect the
academic performance of the collegiate students.

The dependent variable in the study, academic success, was

determined by using the students actual GPA (Lepp, Barkley, & Karpinski,
2015, p. 3). Along with the collegiate GPA, high school GPA was also used as
a control. The study had a sample size of 536 undergraduate students. The
measurement tools were a demographic questionnaire, SE:SRL and SE:AA
scales, information on cell phone use, and lastly email. The email is used to

acquire academic information such as the GPA. The SE:SRL scale uses a 11-
items and examines learning strategies. The SE:AA scale examines success
in several key areas. These scales are based on a 1 though 7 Likert-scale
format. The conclusion to the research was that, this measure of cell phone
use was a significant and negative predictor of college students academic
performance, objectively measured as cumulative GPA (Lepp, Barkley, &
Karpinski, 2015, p. 7).

The design of the study was meant to correlate with the methods used.
Using the GPA along with substantial Likert-scale models propose an
information heavy study. However, the methods used successfully
accomplished the goal. The theories or questions being answered in this
study were in many ways predictable. There has been a common notion that
phones distract students and therefore grades suffer. This study provides
valuable insight into not only the views of students, but actual statistical
data pointing towards a correlation between more phone use and a lower
GPA. The methods used helped answer and explain the theory, making the fit
between the two successful. The research itself is valuable because it backs
the notion that phone use actually does affect students academic
performance. With this knowledge and further research, hopefully students
will learn to look less at their phones and more at their books. The conclusion
focused on the correlation of students GPA in relation to how much the
students used their phones. Though more research should be done to
understand the phenomena, the argument proposed by Lepp, Brakley, and
Karpinski, was supported by the research findings.


In order to properly measure the survey there are a few variables that
need to be determined. Time on the cell phone for only texting and or calling
is an important measuring tool. Because total time on the phone relates to
the importance of that method of communication, it enables one to base
primitive measurements off of that. Since the majority of survey participants

have smart phones, it is important to obtain information that only correlates

to texting or calling, excluding all other activities on the cell phone. For the
first research question, discussing the difference between males and females
and their perception of cell phone communication. To operationalize this, one
must compare and contrast the individual views of both variables. As
mentioned previously, time is a critical part in determining the importance of
cell phone communication for not only age but also gender. Secondly, results
are obtained through measuring answers from several Likert-scale questions.
This variable provides deeper insight into the extent to which individuals feel
cell phone communication is necessary.

In the study, 76 individuals took part in the survey. The sampling for
this research was conducted in a collegiate atmosphere. The first sampling
method divides the population between males and females. It is critical to
evaluate both genders because the research is examining how these two
variables reason differently. Since cell phone communication has only been a
critical mode of communication for the last twenty years, it is important to
incorporate a younger population for accurate measurements. The sampling
age range was broken down into four age ranges: 16-18, 19-29, 30-49, and
50-64. The reason these age rangers were chosen was because each
symbolizes a specific age classification. Ages 16-18 account for senior high
school age individuals. Ages 19-29 account for college to lower middle age
individuals (the first generation who experienced greater cell phone use).
Ages 30-49 account for middle aged individuals who are commonly
associated with established relationships, jobs, and families. Finally, ages 50-
64 accounts for the upper, middle-aged adults. Although relationship status
is not generally regarded as a specific sampling method, to better answer
the research questions, it was critical to add this element. This sample was
broken into five categories: single, in a non-serious relationship, in a serious
relationship, married, or other.

In this research convenient sampling was used. The survey was

administered to any participant who had online capabilities. Before making
the survey public, it was given to five individuals who were randomly
selected. This was to ensure the correctness of the survey in terms of
wording, formatting, and overall effectiveness of the survey questions
themselves. The survey was then messaged to several college classes via E-
Campus internal messaging. In addition, the other primary method of
sampling was through the use of social media, primarily Facebook. The
sampling was conducted by posting the link to Facebook enabling anyone to
take the survey. The survey was posted in public domain, meaning it can be
searched and viewed by any individual who has Facebook access. The reason
for this was to confine the sample to those who likely communicate via
messaging device on a regular basis. However, there are some restrictions
with this. Because Facebook posts are primarily viewed by members who are
friends this decreases the randomness of the sampling. Also, because the
individuals are clustered in locations associated with said friends this also
limits the range of the sampling

The data was collected through an online survey utilizing 17 total

questions. The first section of the survey was primarily general measuring
data: gender, age, relationship status, the hours of cell phone use in relation
to texting and or calling, and whether or not the individual prefers (for the
most part) to communicate via cell phone in non-urgent situations. The
second section uses a 5-point Likert-scale (see Appendix A). Number 1 on the
scale identifies as strongly disagree. Number 5 on the scale identifies as
strongly agree. These questions, based off of central tendencies offer data
that can be used to determine the importance of cell phone use within the
different categories previously proposed by the research question. The third
and final section of the survey was an open-ended question: Explain why or
why not cell phone communication is important in relationships (Friends,
family, or partner) (see Appendix B). This question was not mandatory for

the survey. Instead, this question was to obtain any personal information
regarding why or why not communication through cell phones is critical.

Data Analysis

The data is analyzed through several different methods. First, the time
spent is broken down to determine the differentiation between male and
female phone use. Then, to determine the individual results, averages were
obtained through the Likert-scales. Using the t test, the results can be
separated and compared to identify which group (male or female) finds cell
phone communication to be more necessary in working relationships.

Based off of hourly cell phone use for texting and calling only, results
showed that 32.9% of individuals used their cell phones for less than an hour
a day. 39.5% used their cell phones for 1 to 2 hours a day. 13.2% said they
used their cell phones for 3 to 4 hours a day, and 14.5% claimed to used
their phone for 5 plus hours a day. In the survey, 49 of the participants were
female and 27 were male. Breaking the hours per day down further, the
charts below show the difference between men and women.

The color coding goes as follows: blue=less than 1, red=1-2, yellow=3-

4, and green=5+ hours a day on their phone for texting and calling only.
According to the research, 18.37% of the 49 women surveyed say they used
their phones for 5+ hours a day. In comparison, out of 27 men surveyed only
7.42% said they use theirs for 5+ hours a day.

Secondarily, the question is asked whether or not individuals prefer cell

phone communication over face-to-face communication. 7.4% of males
agreed with the statement that they prefer using their phone to
communicate over face-to-face communication, while 92.6% stated they
disagree. In contrast, over 30% of females agreed that they prefer cell phone
communication over face-to-face communication, leaving 69.4% in
disagreement. Though this statistic does not specifically mean that females
emphasize cell phone communication more, it does show they tend to be
more comfortable using their phone as a primary method of communication.

The second part of the survey introduces Likert-scale questions. Based off
of the results three of the questions are used to analyze the data:

1. Without a cell phone, I would communicate more in person. (Family,

relationships, friends.)

2. I feel more comfortable communicating with others using my cell


3. Cell phones are necessary for communication in working

relationships. (Friends, family, partner)

The answers were divided among males and females and the mean
number was taken from these questions (view in the following graph). The
five point scale used (1=disagree/5=agree).

Though marginal, the difference between the male and female

responses is interesting. In these three questions, females have a higher
tendency to agree to the statement presented. In general, these three
statements identify that the individual not only feels more comfortable using
a cell phone as a means of communication but also places importance on
that method.


In conclusion, the research found that females not only spend more
time texting or calling on their cell phones but that they also find cell phone
communication more important. This lines up with the initial research
question, and somewhat confirms the hypothesis. Though males spend less
time on their phone, the research disproves the opinion of males finding that
form of communication critical to relationships, in comparison to females.
The findings showed that women are more likely to use their cell phones as a

means for communication; females tend to feel more comfortable using their
cell phones for communication; and in general, both male and female
participants noted that there is a general standard of importance on cell
phone communication.

The findings were relatable to the research done by Borae Jin and Jorge
F. Pee who examined the correlation and importance of mobile phones in
romantic relationships. They note that, there were no significant results in
relation to the use of text messaging. Overall, more mobile calls in romantic
relationships are associated with positive relationship qualities (Jin & Pea,
2010, p. 45). In addition, researchers Robert Duran, Lynne Kelly, and Teodora
Rotaru examine, further, the significance of cell phone use in romantic
relationships finding that they not only are widely used in relationships as a
source of communication but also can spur ambiguity and conflict (Duran,
Kelly, & Rotaru, 2011, p. 19). Though these researchers were not looking
specifically at whether or not phone communication was more important to
males or females, their research proves significant in connection to the
findings of this survey.

The findings in many ways are generalizable. The only exception to this
is the scope of the sample. In order for it to fully encompass the general
population it would require more participants as well as administering the
survey on a broader platform instead of primarily using social media. For
further research, one may experiment with different forms of relationships.
Age is also an important factor in research over cell phone communication,
this is because each generation experiences different levels of emphasis on
the medium of communication. In general, the research is pressing for better
understanding of how relationships progress and evolve when cell phone
communication is introduced. Though the findings presented were consistent
with the initial hypothesis, more variables must be accounted for to optimize
future research into the importance of cell phone communication.


Duran, R. L., Kelly, L., & Rotaru, T. (2011). Mobile phones in romantic relationships
and the
dialectic of autonomy versus connection. Communication Quarterly, 59(1),
19-36. doi:10.1080/01463373.2011.541336
Jin, B., & Pea, J. F. (2010). Mobile communication in romantic relationships: Mobile
use, relational uncertainty, love, commitment, and attachment styles.
Communication Reports, 23(1), 39-51. doi:10.1080/08934211003598742
Lepp, A., Barkley, J. E., & Karpinski, A. C. (2015). The relationship between cell
phone use
and academic performance in a sample of U.S. college students. SAGE Open,
5(1), 1-8. doi:10.1177/2158244015573169
Weisskirch, R. S. (2011). No crossed wires: Cell phone communication in parent-
relationships. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 14(7-8),
447-451. doi:10.1089/cyber.2009.0455

Appendix A
Multiple Choice and True or False Survey Questions
The following questions or statements are taken from the survey itself.

o Male
o Female
o 16-18
o 19-29
o 30-49
o 50-64
Relationship Status
o Single
o In a non-serious relationship
o In a serious relationship
o Married
o Other
Do you have a smart phone? (iPhone, Android, Windows, anything with
a touchscreen)
o Yes
o No
How many hours a day do you use your phone for things besides
o Less then 1hour
o 1-2 hours
o 3-4 hours
o 5+ hours
How many hours a day do you spend calling or texting with your cell
o Less then 1hour
o 1-2 hours
o 3-4 hours
o 5+ hours
Do you prefer texting someone a question rather than calling to ask?
o Yes
o No
Do you prefer using your cell phone as a means of communication
rather than face-to-face communication?
o Yes
o No

The following questions were rated 1-5 (1=Strongly Disagree) (5=Strongly


Person-to-person communication is important in all relationships.

Without a cell phone, I would communicate more in person. (Family,
relationships, friends.)
I prefer to tell someone bad news via cell phone.
I communicate with my friends, family, or partner using my cell phone
more than person-to-person.
I feel more comfortable communicating with others using my cell
Important information is best communicated via text so you can reread
what was said.
Cell phones are necessary for communication in working relationships.
(Friends, family, partner)
Communication (of any form) is critical in all relationships.

Appendix B

Open Ended Question (non-mandatory)

Explain why or why not cell phone communication is important in

relationships (Friends, family, or partner).