If you and your dining companions bring mobile phones to the dinner table, even if they are not used, researchers say that they can negatively impact your relationships.

Studies have shown that individuals talking with someone who has a cell phone visible feel negative towards the person with whom they are conversing.

According to the psychologists who conducted the studies, mobile phones and smartphones make people think about a wide social network. As a result, empathy and understanding in the conversation goes down.

Andrew Przybylski, who was the lead researcher in the study, noted that a mobile phone can negatively impact the quality of a conversation, as well as negatively impact the closeness and connection between two people because a mobile phone can trigger thoughts of people and events outside of the conversation.

In one of the studies conducted, 37 different pairs of people who had never met were asked to talk for 10 minutes about an interesting event in their lives that happened in the previous month. Each pair sat in a private booth. In half of the pairs, a mobile phone was nearby. In the other half, the phone was replaced with a notebook. After the conversations were complete, questionnaires were given with questions about the other person.

The people who conducted the study noted that the pairs who were in proximity to a mobile had more negative reactions about their conversation partners than the pairs who were near the notebook. Questions about the potential for a future friendship were answered in a way that suggested the mobile phone pairs felt they would not become friends.

A second study involved 34 pairs of people who had never met. Some pairs were asked to talk about their year’s most meaningful events and others were asked to talk about an everyday topic. Half of the partners were near a mobile and the other half were near a notebook.

The group of people near the notebook who had conversations about meaningful events reported a feeling of trust greater than that felt between the partners asked to talk about an everyday topic. However, this was not the case for pairs who were near a mobile phone.

Researchers concluded that the mere presence of cell phones or smartphones can negatively impact relationships between people. This conclusion was most obvious in the study that asked strangers to have meaningful conversations with each other.