School of Communication professors, Dr. Lynne Kelly and Dr. Robert L. Duran, published an article titled, "Sports Scores and Intimate Moments: An Expectancy Violations Theory Approach to Partner Cell Phone Behaviors in Adult Romantic Relationship." Former colleague, Dr. Aimee Miller-Ott, also was an author on the paper. The article is published in Western Journal of Communication, vol. 81, no. 5, October--December, 2017, pp. 619-640.
The article reports a study which surveyed 225 adults, ages 23-35, about their perceptions of and responses to cell phone use by their romantic partners when spending time together. Use of the phone while together was generally expected and perceived as neutral unless there was an expectation of partner attention, such as when out to dinner, or if usage was excessive and for entertainment (e.g., checking sports scores, scrolling social media) rather than communication. In those cases, cell phone use constituted an expectancy violation and was perceived negatively.