Short-sighted ghosts. Psychological antecedents and consequences of ghosting others within emerging adults' romantic relationships and friendships

Michaela Forrai, Kevin Koban, Jörg Matthes

Ghosting (i.e., terminating communication with another person on social media without explanation) has become an all-too-common occurrence. Prior scholarship has predominantly focused on adverse effects of being ghosted on individuals’ well-being and mainly investigated the phenomenon within romantic relationships. By contrast, its occurrence within friendships as well as psychological predictors and effects of ghosting others over time with regard to well-being are not comprehensively understood yet. The present study aims to fill these research gaps using data from a two-wave panel survey among emerging adults between 16 and 21 years. Analyses show that ghosting romantic partners and ghosting friends are different phenomena: While communication overload (i.e., the feeling of receiving more messages than one can handle) positively predicts ghosting romantic partners, ghosting friends is predicted by one's self-esteem. Most notably, ghosting others within romantic relationships did not yield any effects on well-being, whereas ghosting friends increased depressive tendencies over time, demonstrating that ghosting is not only harmful to those who are ghosted, but can also negatively impact those who ghost others.

Department of Communication
Telematics and Informatics: An Interdisciplinary Journal on the Social Impacts of New Technologies
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Computer Networks and Communications
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