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The Role Of Neuroticism In Social Media Addiction

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

According to research, there is an irrefutable correlation between social media use, poor mental health, and low self-esteem. While online social networks have certain advantages, using them excessively might cause people to become progressively dissatisfied and isolated. These unpleasant emotional reactions are caused not just by the social pressure to share items with others, but also by the comparison of material things and lifestyles that these sites promote.

According to recent research, frequent social network users assume that other users are happier and more successful than they are, particularly when they do not know them well in real life. Social media creates an environment in which people compare their authentic offline selves to the perfect, filtered, and edited online versions of others, which can be damaging to mental health and self-perception. Excessive social media use can not only lead to unhappiness and overall discontent with life, but it can also increase the chance of acquiring mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

What Is Neuroticism? 

Neuroticism is a long-term emotional tendency to be pessimistic or nervous. It is a personality attribute rather than a medical problem that is frequently confused with neurosis.

Neuroticism is one of the five personality traits that comprise the five-factor model, along with extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, and openness. This concept is used in personality assessments and examinations across many cultures.

Neurotic people exhibit more negative moods and experience feelings of guilt, envy, wrath, and anxiety more frequently and intensely than other people. People who are neurotic may perceive everyday situations as dangerous and intense. Frustrations that others may dismiss as insignificant might become problematic and lead to melancholy. Read more about the personality traits here.

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What Is Social Media Addiction? 

Checking and browsing through social media has grown in popularity over the previous decade. Although most people’s usage of social media is not harmful, a small minority of users become addicted to social networking sites and engage in compulsive usage.

Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction defined by excessive concern for social media, an uncontrollable desire to log on to or use social media, and investing so much time and effort to social media that it hinders other areas of your life. 

Addictive social media use will resemble any other substance use problem and may include:

  • Mood regulations from involvement in social media results in a positive change in emotional states
  • Salience, which is defined as a behavioral, cognitive, and emotional obsession with social media
  • Tolerance, or the gradual increase in the usage of social media
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as unpleasant physical and mental symptoms when social media use is limited or discontinued
  • Conflict resulting from interpersonal issues caused by social media use
  • Relapse from addicted individuals who swiftly return to their excessive social media usage after not using it for a period of time

The dopamine-inducing social contexts provided by social networking sites are largely responsible for the phenomenon of social media addiction

How The Two Are Linked

Many academic studies have explored the links between neurotic personalities and social media addiction. A 2013 study examined neurotic people to predict social media misuse. According to the findings of this study, the persons tested who were determined to be more neurotic used Facebook more on average. The researchers hypothesized that this could be due to one of two factors:

  • Neurotic people use Facebook to feel a sense of belonging that they may not get through face-to-face communication.
  • Alternatively, neurotic people may utilize Facebook as a safe haven for their self-preservation and identity.
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These findings are consistent with prior research, which found that neurotic people may rely significantly on social media to fill a hole in their social lives created by worried or negative feelings about themselves.

It may be surmised that the social media addiction epidemic associated with neurotic individuals as opposed to other addictive inclinations is mostly related to the riskiness of the activity. Those who are prone to drug or substance abuse are often risk-takers in search of pleasure and satisfaction. Neurotic people, on the other hand, may be using social media as a tool to enable the same feelings in a less dangerous way. Neurotic people may be preoccupied with the unknown aspect of social media, producing tension and excitement, which plays directly into their stereotypical traits.

However, this is quite the cutting-edge discussion considering social media presence has increased in the last decade or so with the arrival of Myspace, Facebook, smart phones, and other technologies. This curtails the analysis because there is simply not enough in-depth knowledge on social media addiction yet. A lot is unknown, and future research will reveal a lot, such as if dopamine levels are related to social media use. This is a developing issue with a lot more to come in the field of academia. 

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