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Facebook: Motives for Use and Effects on Personality

2419 words (10 pages) Essay in Psychology

11/04/18 Psychology Reference this

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The current study investigated the motives for using Facebook from the uses and gratifications perspectives and personality as predictors of Facebook addiction among the Mauritian university students. It also explored the relationship of motives and personality with attitudinal/ behavioral outcomes of the participants’ Facebook use. It was found that certain prevalent motives and extraversion trait were strongly associated with the Facebook variables studied and significantly predicted addiction to the site as expected.

Relationship between Facebook and motives

The study found 8 motives for Mauritian youths for using Facebook, the most popular social networking site. These motives include passing time, education, political, social interaction, entertainment, network surveillance, information seeking and relationship maintenance. Preceding studies found similar motives for using the site. For instance Dhaha et al (2014) found that entertainment, social interaction, political and education motivated Somali youths to use Facebook. Hart (2011) found that four motives for using the site among undergraduates, namely information seeking, passing time, relationship maintenance and entertainment significantly predicted amount of Facebook use, frequency of Facebook use and number of Facebook friends. Zhang et al (2011) found that network surveillance significantly predicted time spent on Facebook per day and number of Facebook friends. In this study a bivariate correlation has revealed that there was a moderate and significant positive relationship of amount of time spent per day, number of friends and login frequency with all the motives except education and political which showed no relationship with these Facebook usage variables.

The study enquired the intensity of Facebook addiction among Mauritian youths. The Facebook addiction instrument was divided into 4 dimensions namely salience, loss of control, mood modification and conflict. The results confirmed addictive tendencies among 27.2% of the sample as they rated high on overall Facebook addiction scale. It was found that the site was incorporated in their daily lives (salience), many spend more than 3 hours per day on it (38.2%), they often lose sleep due to late night logins, have a constant urge to check Facebook (loss of control), neglect responsibilities such as academic performance (conflict) and often use Facebook to reduce feelings of anxiety (mood modification). These findings corroborate with previous studies. For instance Zaremohzzabieh et al (2014) and Balakrishinan & Shamim (2013) found similar outcomes of addictive behaviors towards the use of Facebook, namely salience, loss of control, mood modification, withdrawal and conflict.

In terms of the relationship between Facebook motives and Facebook addiction, the study shown a significant positive correlation between Facebook addiction and the 8 motives components studied. Facebook addiction was more closely related to passing time motive followed by entertainment, social interaction and relationship maintenance. These findings are consistent with previous studies of Facebook addiction from uses & gratifications perspectives. For instance Dhaha et al. (2014) and Kavitha (2013) found that entertainment, communication, passing time, social interaction and companionship were correlated with Facebook addiction.

The study also investigated specific motives as predictors of Facebook addiction to test the hypotheses. The analysis of the multiple regression revealed that the four motives namely passing time, entertainment, social interaction and relationship maintenance significantly predicted Facebook addiction. Passing time motive emerged as the best predictor of Facebook addiction, followed by entertainment and relationship maintenance. These findings are supported by previous studies. For instance (Kavitha, 2013) also identified passing time as the best predictor of Facebook addiction. In the same line a systematic review that examined Facebook addiction and motives has revealed that for 14 out of 16 studies, the components explaining the majority of the variance relate to either passing time or relationship maintenance (Ryan et al, 2014). With regard to the prevalent gratification of passing time, findings seem to reflect the usual use of Facebook to occupy time when bored, to procrastinate from other activities or task avoidance (Foregger, 2008; Sheldon, 2008). The researchers also found that entertainment (e.g. playing games) was a popular motive for engaging in Facebook appearing across 15 studies (Ryan et al, 2014). It is associated with pleasure seeking. Dhaha et al (2014) and Sofiah et al (2011) also found that entertainment, social interaction (e.g. making new friends) and communication significantly predicted Facebook addiction.

These findings are consistent with those of Ryan et al, (2014) which reported that motives can be related to Facebook addiction through use that is habitual, excessive or a desire for mood modification. The findings reflect both the benefits and downside of Facebook use. The uses and gratifications of Facebook use operate to satisfy the social and psychological needs of a large number of internet users but at the same contributing to addiction to the site (Ryan et al, 2014). As the findings indicate, excessive use result in negative life outcomes such as neglecting significant activities e.g. school and significant relationships. For instance this paradox can be illustrated in terms of the Stimulation Hypothesis and Displacement Hypothesis since findings of this study have revealed that social interaction is related to Facebook addiction. The former supports the positive effects of social interaction via Facebook. It argues that online interaction complements existing social interaction and can extend new cyber relationships to offline interaction thereby improving social relationships and relieved from loneliness (Valkenburg, 2007).

But paradoxically the displacement hypothesis suggests that the time and psychic energy spent on Facebook with weak ties or virtual characters replaces real world interaction and is harming significant relationships (Valkenburg, 2007). Similarly (Sheldon et al, 2011) found that spending a lot of time on Facebook correlated with both high levels of feeling connected to other people and with high levels of disconnection. Moreover Facebook addiction is found to be with associated depression, anxiety disorders, aggressive tendencies and decreased productivity (Rosen et al, 2014)

Relationship between Facebook and personality

This study analyzed the attitudinal and behavioral outcomes of the respondents’ Facebook use from a personality trait approach involving extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and narcissism. The study also posits that certain of these personality traits predict Facebook addiction. Results indicate that extraversion significantly and positively correlated with amount of time spent on Facebook per day, login frequency, number of friends and Facebook addiction. Regression analysis has revealed that extraversion significantly predicts Facebook addiction. These findings are in line with other studies. For instance Amichai-Hamburger et al (2010) and Kosinski et al 2013 found that Extroversion was positively related with amount of time spend on Facebook and number of friends. Wilson et al (2010) reported that extraversion was related to higher levels of Facebook use and predicts addictive tendencies to the site. The researchers’ findings suggest that extroverts are over reliant on SNSs as they require a higher level of stimulation and a large social network. In the same line the current study found that there was a positive significant correlation between extraversion and social interaction motive consistent with the rich-get-richer approach which claims that extraverts gain more benefits through SNSs as they can enlarge their social relationships (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011). This is to contrast with Moore & McElroy, (2012) who found that those who score low on extraversion i.e. introverts positively correlated with Facebook use to stay in touch with friends.

With respect to narcissism this study found that narcissism significantly and positively correlated with amount of time spent on Facebook per day, login frequency, number of friends and Facebook addiction. Carpenter et al (2012) and Rosen (2014) also found that users who score high on narcissism spend a lot of time on Facebook; they depict addictive symptoms to the site and have many Facebook friends. Moreover the current study revealed there was a high and positive significant correlation of narcissism with the frequency of posting updates and changing profile pictures. Similarly Alloway et al (2014) found that frequency of posting status updates was related to narcissism. Individuals scoring high on narcissism are more active on social network sites as these sites represent an opportunity to present themselves in a self-promoting way which is in line with their ideal self by frequently posting glorifying pictures and updates about them (C. S. Andreassen, et al, 2012).

On the other hand this study revealed that conscientiousness was negatively related to amount of time spent on Facebook and login frequency and low scores on conscientiousness predicted Facebook addiction. These findings are consistent with Wilson et al (2010) which showed low scores on conscientiousness was related to higher levels of SNSs use and significantly predicted addictive tendencies to SNSs. It was hypothesized that unconscientious young adults exhibit addictive tendencies towards the use of SNSs as they lack self-discipline and tend to use these sites as way of procrastinating (Wilson et al 2010). However these findings differ from that of Marcus et al (2006) who found that conscientiousness was positively related to self-monitoring and presentation, suggesting that those who rated high on conscientiousness engage on social-networking sites to gain social appreciation.

Alternatively this study found there was no relationship of openness to experience with amount time spends per day, number of friends and login frequency. Openness to experience did not predict Facebook addiction. These findings are supported by Wilson et al (2010) which also revealed that openness trait has no impact on SNSs use. The researchers believe that this is due to the fact that Facebook is no longer being a new creation and thus has lost some of its appeal for those with openness characteristic who are keen to experience newer activities (Wilson et al, 2010). However this study’s finding do not link with those of Ross et al (2009) which showed that higher levels of openness to experience was associated with greater online sociability. Conversely this study found that there was no relationship between openness to experience and social interaction motive for using Facebook.

This study revealed that there was no relationship of agreeableness personality trait with amount of time spends per day on Facebook, how often participants login to Facebook, number of Facebook friends and Facebook addiction. These results correspond with those of Wilson et al (2010) which showed that the agreeableness trait has no influence on SNS use. This is also in line with Duff (2012) which found that there was no significant relationship between agreeableness and frequency of Facebook use.

Neuroticism was negatively related to amount of time spend on Facebook per day, login frequency and Facebook addiction. These results indicate that participants scoring low on neuroticism spend more time on Facebook and depict addictive tendencies to the site. Conversely high scores on neuroticism is associated with less time spend on Facebook. These findings are in contrast with those of Wilson et al (2010) who found that neuroticism was not associated with addictive tendencies to SNS. Likewise Duff (20..) found that neuroticism was not related to frequency of Facebook use. The current findings do not link also with other studies which reported that high scores on neuroticism was positively associated with social media use where it was assumed that neurotics use social media as a way of seeking support. Moreover another plausible reason reported for this positive relationship was that online social networks give those who are high on neuroticism more time for scrutiny before acting unlike face-to-face interactions (C. S. Andreassen, et al, 2012).

However this study’s findings are indirectly supported by those of Marcus et al (2006), which indicated a significant negative correlation between neuroticism and self-monitoring (Duff..). Marcus et al (2006) argued that these results indicated that those higher in neuroticism show a lack of ability in changing their behavior to gain social approval from others. Thus this may indirectly explain why neurotics spend less time on Facebook. In the same line the current study has revealed that neuroticism is negatively related to social interaction implying that those who are high on neuroticism are less likely to engage in social interactions.

Relationship between self-esteem and Facebook

This study reported a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and amount of time spent on Facebook per day. This indicates that those who score low on self-esteem spend more time on Facebook. These findings are supported by previous studies. For instance Kalpidou et al 2011 found there was a negative correlation between self-esteem and time spent on Facebook. In the same line Mehdizadeh’s (2010) findings revealed that lower levels of self-esteem correlated with greater amount of time spent on Facebook. The current study also revealed that self-esteem was negatively related to number of friends suggesting that low self-esteem participants have more friends.

These findings are consistent with Zywica & Danowski’s (2008) findings which reported that low self-esteem users have many Facebook friends as they strived more to increase their Facebook popularity to compensate for inadequate offline popularity, consistent with the social compensation hypothesis. Moreover having many Facebook friends implies performing for a bigger audience which is associated with enhancing in self-esteem.

Another plausible explanation for these results interlink with Ellison et al, 2007 study which stated that low self-esteem users reap more benefits from Facebook than their high self-esteem counterparts as Facebook affordances mitigate fear of rejection and enable them to enlarge their social capital in a way more rewarding for them than face to face interaction. Since low self-esteem involves poor self-perception, social anxiety and shyness, features such as wall posting, messaging, poking, tagging and display of users’ personal information encouraged low self-esteem users to improve social relationships. (Steinfield et al, 2008). Hence as Facebook is related to bounding and bridging of social capital it can be deduced that those with low self-esteem spend more time on Facebook to boost their self-esteem (Steinfield et al, 2008).

Furthermore, viewing one’s own Facebook profile, editing Facebook profile and receiving positive feedback from others were found to enhance self-esteem (Gonzales & Hancock 2011; Valkenburg et al, 2006). Gonzales & Hancock 2011 stated that Facebook is related to self-presentation. Thus it can be said that those with low self-esteem spend more time on Facebook than those with high self-esteem in order to optimize their self-presentation such as posting information about themselves so as to gain more popularity and altogether boost their social self-esteem.

The present findings indicate that low self-esteem users may be over reliant on Facebook to reap these benefits. Indeed this study has revealed a significant correlation between self-esteem and Facebook addiction. Correspondingly Denti et al (2012) also found that low self-esteem was associated with Facebook addiction. The researcher found that Women Facebook addicts with low self-esteem use Facebook more to report negative information about their lives (Denti et al 2012). However the results do not link with those of Wilson et al (2010) which indicated that there was no relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites.

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