People who are more narcissistic are more likely to be compulsive Facebook users, suggests a new study published in the scientific journal PLOS One.
“Currently, the social networking site Facebook is used by over 2.1 billion people. Worldwide, users spend a lot of time interacting on Facebook with other platform members and presenting themselves. Some of the members lose control over their Facebook use and develop a strong psychological need to stay online, despite the possible negative consequences of this behavior – the so-called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD),” explained study author Julia Brailovskaia of Ruhr University Bochum.
“Even though FAD has been demonstrated to be associated with some personality traits and mental health variables, too little attention has been paid to this topic to recognize it as formal psychiatric disorder. We therefore decided to shed some light on this topic with our longitudinal exploratory study, which is part of the ongoing BOOM (Bochum Optimism and Mental Health) program.”
The study examined 179 German students who used Facebook over the course of one year. The researchers measured the participants addiction to Facebook using the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, a test designed specifically to assess compulsive Facebook use.
The researchers also surveyed the participants regarding their general life satisfaction, amount of social support, depression and anxiety, narcissism, physical health, and general media use.
“Our current results reveal that while the mean FAD level did not increase during the investigation period of one year, a significant increase was shown in the number of participants reaching the critical cutoff score and in the values of withdrawal, which belongs to one of the six core characteristics of FAD,” Brailovskaia told PsyPost.
In other words, more of the students reported becoming restless or troubled if they couldn’t use Facebook over time. But overall there was not an increase in scores on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.
The researchers also found that Facebook addiction was associated with certain psychological factors.
“FAD was significantly positively related to the personality trait narcissism and to negative mental health variables (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms),” Brailovskaia explained. “Furthermore, FAD fully mediated the significant positive relationship between narcissism and stress symptoms, which demonstrates that narcissistic people can be specifically at risk to develop FAD.”
“Thus, our findings demonstrate that it is important to consider possible negative consequences of excessive Facebook use, which especially younger people, who belong to the main group of Facebook members, are often unaware of.”
The study, like all research, has its limitations.
“Our work is one of the first studies that investigated FAD in Germany. Present results give a first overview and emphasize that there is much more to work on,” Brailovskaia said.
“Taking into account that physiological functions such as blood pressure and heart rate have been earlier demonstrated to be associated with problematic Internet use, in further studies a focus should also be laid on potential physiological markers of FAD.”
“Additionally, we worked with a young student sample including mostly female Facebook users. Future studies should investigate the replicability of our results using a larger and more representative sample with an equal gender ratio,” Brailovskaia added.
“As described, today, we are at the beginning of the investigation of FAD in Germany. Our present study is one of the first steps of this investigation. We are further working on this topic and would be glad to find other researchers, in Germany and other countries, who are interested in a cooperation to extend our research.”
The study, “Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) among German students—A longitudinal approach“, was co-authored by Jürgen Margraf.