University of Twente Student Theses


Social media in relation to mental health and personality

Nedderhoff, A. (2019) Social media in relation to mental health and personality.

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Abstract:Background. For a decade now, social media networks are expanding. Platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp show the highest user registration numbers. Especially in the age range 18 to 30 the amount of social media users is predominantly high. Previous research indicated that there may be a potential relation between social media use and mental health. More specific, a negative relation of social media use with psychological distress and a positive relation with mental well-being. Also, personality traits seem to play an important role when investigating social media behaviour patterns. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between social media use and the two-continuums of mental health, namely the level of well-being and the level of psychological complaints, by investigating mental well-being, and the subdomain of psychological complaints, namely psychological distress. In addition, it was tested to what extent the personality traits openness, extraversion, and neuroticism pose a moderating effect on the relationship between social media use and the two continuums of mental health. Methods. The research question was answered by applying a cross-sectional online survey-based research design. The sample consisted of 273 participants, from which 205 were female, and 68 were male. In total, there were 17 questions in the survey including demographics, and measuring the variables of social media use, mental well-being, psychological distress, and the three personality traits openness,, extraversion, and neuroticism. The data was analysed by correlational and moderation analyses using the software SPSS. Results. Against the expectations based on past literature, the current study revealed that there is a significant positive relationship between higher social media use and higher psychological distress. Mental well-being, in contrast, is not related to social media use revealed by a correlational analysis. Furthermore, the interaction of social media use and the personality trait openness resulted in a significant interaction effect on mental well-being. The findings indicate that regardless of the level of openness, mental well-being is lower when social media is used. In contrast, when social media is not used frequently, people high in openness, experience high mental well-being when they are not using social media often. At last, no other personality trait significantly moderated the relationship between social media use and mental health. Conclusion. The current study showed contradicting and unexpected results in the light provide of previous research. It seems as if psychological distress and social media increase themselves bidirectional as revealed by the correlation analysis. In addition, for highly open people it seems as if social media use could have a negative relation to mental well-being that could be investigated in future studies. For instance, people using social media a lot and are high in openness may improve their mental well-being by refraining from frequent social media use. Keywords. Social Media, Mental Health, Mental Well-being, Psychological Distress, Personality
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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