Launched in 2004, Facebook has attracted over 900 million active
users by now. Mark Zuckerberg's creation is extraordinary in
multiple dimensions ranging from corporate finance to marketing and social
interactions. A group of Norwegian researchers surrounding Dr.
Cecilie Andreassen at the University of Bergen has now attempted to
create a psychological scale which measures whether an individual
is addicted to Facebook.
Ranked by personality
In their research paper, they state that "social
network sites are predominantly used for maintenance of established
offline networks which, for many, are important in terms of
academic and professional opportunities."
People with certain character traits are more likely to engage
on social platforms. The paper rates them on 5 dimensions, namely:
"Extraversion (e.g., being outgoing, talkative), Agreeableness
(e.g., being sympathetic and warm), Conscientiousness (e.g., being
organized and prompt), Neuroticism (e.g., being nervous and moody),
and Openness to experience (e.g., being creative and intellectually
Narcissism and procrastination
"People scoring high on narcissism tend to be more active on social
network sites, as social network sites provide an opportunity to
present oneself in a favorable way in line with one's ideal self.
We have also found that people who are anxious and socially
insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those
traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to
communicate via social media than face-to-face," Dr. Andreassen
commented on their results.
"People who score low on Conscientiousnessare assumed to use
social media as a way of procrastinating, hence, Conscientiousness
is assumed to be negatively associated with social media use."
Overall, organized and individuals are less likely to get addicted
to Facebook, while they employ it as a tool to enhance their work
and networking power. On average, women have a greater tendency to
exhibit Facebook addiction.
Among students, procrastination is indeed often reported as the
primary outcome of Facebook interaction. The Norwegian researchers
write that "social-network site use can lead to a variety of
negative consequences such as decrease in real-life communities,
worsening of academic performance, and relationship problems (Kuss
& Griffiths, 2011)."
Are you addicted to Facebook?
The scale put forward by Andreassen's team is based on the
following six criteria. Respondents can choose between (1) Very
rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very
- You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning how
to use it.
- You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
- You use Facebook in order to forget about personal
- You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without
- You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from
- You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on
Answering "Often" or "Very often" to at least four of these
criteria indicates that the individual is addicted to Facebook
according to their research. The results are based on an analysis
of questionnaires given out to 423 students last year.
Do not generalize findings
Dr. Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University (UK) lauded
his colleagues for their findings but advised caution. In a response, he stated that their scale was linked
to the product Facebook itself and could not be easily generalized
to other social media.
In fact, Facebook users themselves already use the website in
many different ways, e.g. for watching videos, playing games etc.
From a psychological point of view, scientists should therefore
distinguish between addiction to activities on social media sites
and addiction to the site itself.