A study of personality and compulsive internet use in adults from the UK, the US and the UAE

Quinones-Garcia, Cristina and Korak-Kakabadse, Nada (2015). A study of personality and compulsive internet use in adults from the UK, the US and the UAE. In: Journal of Behavioral Addictions, p. 32.


Background and aims: Compulsive Internet Use (CIU) has been studied among adolescents, but less is known about the prevalence in adults and theoretical development of risk factors is scarce. The study of personality traits and CIU has revealed significant associations with neuroticism and introversion, although these relationships do not seem to be consistent across studies. According to Davis (2000), the social function of the Internet is key to identify the traits that increase vulnerability to CIU. Since Self-Concept Clarity (SCC) is associated with social phobia in face to face interactions, we expected that individuals with low SCC would show a marked preference for virtual social interactions and in turn, higher CIU. Because SCC is related to well-being in Individualistic samples, we expected that the association between SCC and CIU would be weaker in our Collectivistic sample, particularly when respondents reported high levels of offline social support.

Methods: We used survey-based design with samples from UK (N=277), US (N=268) and UAE (N=285). We tested the model with Multi-group Confirmatory Factor Analysis with AMOS 20.

Results: The relationship between SCC and CIU was partially mediated by preference for virtual interactions in UK and US. In the UAE, the relationship between SCC and CIU was weak and not significant, at low and high levels of social support respectively. We also found that UAE reported higher levels of CIU than UK and USA, even though they spent the lowest time online.

Conclusion: Our results provide new insights on the association between personality and CIU through the preference for virtual interactions. Importantly, the impact of SCC on CIU is not as relevant in countries with more collectivistic cultures.

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