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Personality traits that drive social network addiction identified

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

Scientists have identified traits that can predict whether a person may develop an to

Researchers from Binghamton University, in the US collected data from nearly 300 college-aged students.

They found that three traits - neuroticism, conscientiousness and agreeableness - were related to

"There has been plenty of research on how the interaction of certain traits affects to things like alcohol and drugs," said Isaac Vaghefi, at

"We wanted to apply a similar framework to 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 addiction.

In addition to testing the effect the singular traits had, researchers tested how the traits interact with one another as they relate to 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 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 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.

However, even a combination of high levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness was a predictor of social network addiction.

"An agreeable and friendly person may be making a very conscientious decision to use more in order to interact with their friends, as they make it a deliberate goal to flourish those relationships through the use of social networks," researchers said.

This is unique because this addiction would not be a result of irrationality or a lack of impulse control, as is often associated with addiction. Rather, a person would be developing an addiction through a rational and well-meaning process.

Vaghefi hopes that based on this research, people will look at the "whole picture" when it comes to how personality traits impact

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 12 2018. 15:30 IST