Scientists spot personality traits that drive social network addiction
New York: Scientists have identified personality traits that can predict whether a person may develop an addiction to social networking.
Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York in the US collected data from nearly 300 college-aged students.
They found that three personality traits - neuroticism, conscientiousness and agreeableness - were related to social network addiction.
"There has been plenty of research on how the interaction of certain personality traits affects addiction to things like alcohol and drugs," said Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor at Binghamton University.
"We wanted to apply a similar framework to social networking addiction," Vaghefi said.
These three personality traits are part of the five-factor personality model, a well-established framework used to theoretically understand the human personality.
Researchers found that the two other traits in the model - extraversion and openness to experience - did not play much of a role in the likelihood of developing a social network addiction.
In addition to testing the effect the singular traits had, researchers tested how the traits interact with one another as they relate to social network addiction.
"It's a complex and complicated topic. You can't have a simplistic approach," said Vaghefi.
On their own, the personality traits of neuroticism and conscientiousness have direct negative and positive effects on the likelihood of developing a social network addiction.
Researchers found that neuroticism - the extent to which people experience negative emotions such as stress and anxiety - seemed to increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to social network sites.
On the other hand, higher amounts of conscientiousness - having impulse control and the drive to achieve specific goals - seemed to decrease the likelihood of developing a social network addiction.
However, when tested together, they found that neuroticism seemed to moderate the effect of conscientiousness as it relates to social network addiction.
Since someone can simultaneously be highly neurotic and conscientious, researchers found that even if someone is able to practice self-discipline and regularly persists at achieving goals, the fact that they may also be a stressful and anxious person often overrides the perceived control they may have over social network use.
This moderation effect could cause a conscientious person to be more likely to develop an addiction to social networking sites.
Researchers found that agreeableness alone, the degree to which someone is friendly, empathetic and helpful, did not have a significant effect on social network addiction - but this changes when combined with conscientiousness.
A combination of low levels of both agreeableness and conscientiousness often are related to a higher likelihood of social network addiction.