Predicting tendencies towards the disordered use of Facebook's social media platforms: On the role of personality, impulsivity, and social anxiety

Psychiatry Res. 2020 Jan 16;285:112793. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112793. Online ahead of print.


The present study aimed at investigating personality underpinnings of Social Networks Use Disorder. Instead of focusing on social media in broad or on a single platform, specifically, it was focused on various social media platforms, namely, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, each offering different functions to their users. N = 494 (n = 358 males) participants filled in questionnaires on the Big Five of personality, impulsivity, and social anxiety. Additionally, participants who endorsed using Facebook, and/or WhatsApp, and/or Instagram also completed scales assessing tendencies towards Facebook, and/or WhatsApp, and/or Instagram Use Disorder. Generalized linear models revealed that impulsivity and especially extraversion were positively associated with Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram Use Disorder scores. Conscientiousness (negatively) and particularly neuroticism (positively) were only significantly related to Facebook Use Disorder scores. However, the non-significant associations of WhatsApp and Instagram Use Disorder scores with neuroticism were most likely due to neuroticism's overlap with impulsivity and social anxiety. In conclusion, the present study provides insights into potential common and distinct predisposing factors for the development of Use Disorders of various social media platforms providing different content and functions to their users. Future studies should aim at causally investigating why different platforms are addictive to people with distinct personality profiles.

Keywords: Facebook; Instagram; Internet Communication Disorder; Social Networks Use Disorder; Social media; Social networking sites; WhatsApp.