Technology and Health

The Technology and Health research program has investigated associations between cellphone use, psychological functioning, and sleep quality for the past 10 years. Our initial studies focused on interactions between cellphone habits and interpersonal stress with respect to symptoms of burnout, positive mental health, and sleep problems. Currently, our research focuses on the construct of co-rumination via cellphone, which involves extensively revisiting, speculating about, and dwelling on problems in technology-mediated interactions.

Current Studies

Affect Valuation Study

This ongoing study expands upon the findings of Murdock et al. (2019). It examines social contexts for understanding individuals’ experiences of negative and positive affect, as well as associations among cellphone use, affect valuation, rumination and co-rumination, and psychological distress. This will be a two-phase study with domestic and international components.

Women’s Health and Cognition Study

Data collection is complete for the Women’s Health and Cognition Study, which investigates effects of emerging adults’ menstrual cycle phase on their cognitive patterns of rumination and co-rumination, as well as their symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood. Participation in the study involved five brief assessments across three months. Initial results were presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association.


Past studies

Murdock, K.K., Carlucci, L., & Balsamo, M. (2019). A cross-cultural investigation of co-rumination via cellphone among emerging adults. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 38, 671-703.

This study expanded upon the findings in Murdock et al. (2015) by investigating associations of cellphone-mediated co-rumination with emerging adults’ anxiety, depression, and social functioning in two cultural settings. It was a collaborative study with the lab of Dr. Michela Balsamo in the Department of Psychological, Health, and Territorial Sciences at G. d’Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy. Participants included 216 undergraduate students recruited in the southeastern United States and 375 students recruited in southern Italy. In the U.S. sample, co-rumination via cellphone was associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of social self-efficacy. In contrast, in the Italy sample, co-rumination via cellphone was not significantly associated with anxiety or depression and it was positively associated with social well-being.

Murdock, K.K., Adams, S., Crichlow-Ball, C., Horissian, M., & Roberts, M. (2019). Nighttime notifications and compulsivity illuminate the link between emerging adults’ cellphone use and sleep-related problems. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8, 12-21.

This was a collaborative study with the lab of Professor Sue Adams at the University of Rhode Island, designed to build upon the findings of Murdock et al. (2017). Two different undergraduate samples were examined: 273 students enrolled at a midsized state university and 152 self-identified students recruited through Mechanical Turk. Even after taking into account the overall frequency of cellphone use, nighttime cellphone notifications and qualities of compulsive cellphone use were positive associated with sleep problems and daytime sleepiness in both samples.

Murdock, K.K., Horissian, M., & Crichlow-Ball, C. (2017). Emerging adults’ text message use and sleep characteristics: A multi-method, naturalistic study. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 15, 228-241.

In this study, actigraphy, sleep diaries, and self-report measures were utilized to assess sleep qualities and texting patterns in 83 students at a small liberal arts college over a seven-day period during an academic term. Greater number of daily texts, awareness of nighttime cell phone notifications, and compulsion to check nighttime notifications were significantly associated with poorer subjective sleep quality. Nighttime notifications were significantly associated with sleep problems and disruptions.

Murdock, K.K., Gorman, S., & Robbins, M. (2015). Co-rumination via cellphone moderates the association of perceived interpersonal stress and psychosocial well-being in emerging adults. Journal of Adolescence, 38, 27-37.

This study built upon results of Murdock (2013) by examining a new construct of co-rumination via cellphone (i.e., a pattern of cellphone-mediated communication characterized by repetitively, excessively, and unproductively interacting about problems or negative feelings). In a sample of undergraduates, interpersonal stress was inversely associated with positive mental health, and positively associated with social burnout, only among students who reported higher levels of co-rumination via cellphone.

Murdock, K.K. (2013). Texting while stressed: Implications for students’ burnout, sleep, and well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 207-221.

This study tested a hypothetical model linking interpersonal stress, text messaging behavior, and 3 indicators of first-year college students’ health and well-being: burnout, sleep problems, and emotional well-being. As expected, the number of daily texts moderated the association between interpersonal stress and both burnout and emotional well-being; interpersonal stress was associated with poorer functioning only at higher levels of texting.