Addicted to Facebook?

Nieuws | de redactie
6 juni 2012 | A group of Norwegian researchers created a psychological scale which measures whether an individual is addicted to Facebook. Their research shows how different personalities use social media in different ways. Critics warn of using this as a general measure for other platforms.

Launched in 2004, Facebook has attracted over 900 million activeusers by now. Mark Zuckerberg’s creation is extraordinary inmultiple dimensions ranging from corporate finance to marketing and socialinteractions. A group of Norwegian researchers surrounding Dr.Cecilie Andreassen at the University of Bergen has now attempted tocreate a psychological scale which measures whether an individualis addicted to Facebook.

Ranked by personality

In their research paper, they state that “socialnetwork sites are predominantly used for maintenance of establishedoffline networks which, for many, are important in terms ofacademic and professional opportunities.”

People with certain character traits are more likely to engageon 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., beingorganized and prompt), Neuroticism (e.g., being nervous and moody),and Openness to experience (e.g., being creative and intellectuallyoriented).”

Narcissism and procrastination

“People scoring high on narcissism tend to be more active on socialnetwork sites, as social network sites provide an opportunity topresent oneself in a favorable way in line with one’s ideal self.We have also found that people who are anxious and sociallyinsecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on thosetraits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier tocommunicate via social media than face-to-face,” Dr. Andreassencommented on their results.

“People who score low on Conscientiousnessare assumed to usesocial media as a way of procrastinating, hence, Conscientiousnessis assumed to be negatively associated with social media use.”Overall, organized and individuals are less likely to get addictedto Facebook, while they employ it as a tool to enhance their workand networking power. On average, women have a greater tendency toexhibit Facebook addiction.

Among students, procrastination is indeed often reported as theprimary outcome of Facebook interaction. The Norwegian researcherswrite that “social-network site use can lead to a variety ofnegative 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 thefollowing six criteria. Respondents can choose between (1) Veryrarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Veryoften:

  1. You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning howto use it.
  2. You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  3. You use Facebook in order to forget about personalproblems.
  4. You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook withoutsuccess.
  5. You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited fromusing Facebook.
  6. You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact onyour job/studies.

Answering “Often” or “Very often” to at least four of thesecriteria indicates that the individual is addicted to Facebookaccording to their research. The results are based on an analysisof questionnaires given out to 423 students last year.

Do not generalize findings

Dr. Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University (UK) laudedhis colleagues for their findings but advised caution. In a response, he stated that their scale was linkedto the product Facebook itself and could not be easily generalizedto other social media.

In fact, Facebook users themselves already use the website inmany different ways, e.g. for watching videos, playing games etc.From a psychological point of view, scientists should thereforedistinguish between addiction to activities on social media sitesand addiction to the site itself.


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