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The Effects of Extraversion and Neuroticism on Social Media Use

Info: 10859 words (43 pages) Dissertation
Published: 11th Jan 2022

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Tagged: PsychologySocial Media


The study sought to determine the effect of the personality traits Extraversion and Neuroticism on social media use in participants aged 18 and over. This was achieved by using the Short Version Eysenck Personality Questionnaire to determine Extraversion and Neuroticism scores and a Social Networking Questionnaire to determine social media use on five social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr). A multivariate regression analysis was conducted to determine whether a relationship exists between Extraversion, Neuroticism and social media use.

Results demonstrated a marginal negative relationship between Extraversion and social media use however results demonstrated that a relationship did not exist between Neuroticism and social media use. Both Extraversion and Neuroticism was found to be negative predictors of how many social networking sites participants were a member of. To conclude, Extraversion seems to have a marginal effect of an individuals overall use of social media suggesting the higher the Extraversion score the less an individual will use social media. This could be due to those high in Extraversion not receiving the stimulation they desire from SNS.

1.0 Introduction

“Millions of people are living part of their lives on Social Networking Sites” (Zhang, 2015). Social media has an immense impact on society today (Correa, Hinsley & Zungia, 2010) as it allows for individuals to interact and communicate with others in an online environment. The way we present ourselves in everyday life and online plays a huge part in our social lives (Alvarez-Jimenez, Alcazar-Corcoles, González-Bendall, McGorry & Gleeson, 2014). Considering this, it is plausible to consider the motives of individuals using Social Networking Sites (SNS). An individual’s personality is significant to ones life and Allport (1961) proposed that personality determines characteristics of behaviours and actions. Thus the current study aims to examine the effect of personality traits on social media use.

1.1 What is Social Media?

The Internet has been considered to be a social technology, which supplies support from other individuals and a sense of belonging (Sproull & Faraj, 1995). Social media includes various SNS, which have been suggested to change the way information moves across the globe (Mayfield, 2008). As a result of this change there has been a vast amount of interest into SNS (Ross et al, 2009). Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy and Silvestre (2011) described Social Media as “mobile and web based technologies to create highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, co create, discuss and modify user-generated content.” This research adopts this definition, applying SNS as the “web based technologies”.

1.2 The Role of Social Networking Sites

SNS are a prominent form of communication online (Subrahmanyam, Reich, Waechter & Espinoza, 2008).  They provide an opportunity for individuals to communicate and interact with one another (Correa, Hinsley & Zuniga, 2010), as well as allowing individuals to obtain and share information with peers (Bakshy, Marlow, Rosenn, Adamic, 2012). Research has found that individuals use SNS for forming and maintaining relationships (Muscanell & Guagagno, 2011) as well as enjoyment and usefulness (Lin & Lu, 2011).

1.3 Predictors of Social Media Use

Research into predictors of social media use have come from various perspectives. A sociological perspective turns towards a socio-demographic focus (Hargittai, 2007) suggesting an individual’s age, race, gender, ethnicity and education are associated with their use of SNS. In regards to differences across age, previous research has found that teenagers and young adults are more likely than the older generation to use SNS (Pfeil, Arjan, Zaphins, 2009).

Contrary to this, Perrin (2015) found that social media use from individuals over the age of 65 has tripled since 2010. In reference to differences in social media use across ethnicity and culture, Davies and McNorton (2004) found that Chinese participants reported higher Internet use than participants from the United Kingdom. Although the reasons for using social media (such as seeking friends, social support and entertainment) seemed to be similar across cultures, US participants were still found to have higher use of social media use compared to Korean participants (Kim, Sohn & Choi, 2010). 

An explanation for this difference may be the different cultural values of relationships. American students tend to form more casual relationships, so may remain in contact through social media; whereas Koeran students tend to value more committed relationships, so may require deeper involvement offline. Recent research has also highlighted that gender differences exist within social media use; with men using SNS to form relationships, whereas women use it to maintain relationships. (Muscanell & Guadiagno, 2012).

Likewise, Barker (2009) found that females had greater use of SNS. Barker (2009) suggested that this might be due to females putting in more effort to maintain relationships online. Nonetheless, sociological influences are sensitive to change over time. Therefore, research has turned to more substantial influences, such as personality, due to its stable nature and its impact on the use of SNS.

1.4 Personality

It is necessary to acknowledge that various different explanations of personality, as well as measurements, exist. Defining personality traits is not candid. McCrae and Costa (1995) proposed that personality trait explanations are superior when explaining personality. They acknowledged that personality traits are hypothetical constructs; personal temperaments that infer from as well as forecast and elucidate for patterns of thoughts and behaviours. A common association across research that considering personality is the use of the Five Factor Model. The structure behind the model is of a hierarchical nature, which suggests that personality can be categorised into five main traits: Openness to experience, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Neuroticism (McCrae & John, 1992).

The current study takes into account two of the five personality traits Extraversion and Neuroticism. Although Jung (1921) proposed his theory of psychological types many years ago Extraversion is still prominent in research today (Bradway, 1964). According to Sullivan (1953) not all of the ‘Big Five’ personality traits are appropriate in explaining interpersonal relations. However Extraversion and Neuroticism are. Eysenck and Eysenck (1985) proposed that Extraversion and Neuroticism are greater contributors to the description of personality compared to other personality traits. Thus, these two traits are the main focus of the current study.

The conventional Extravert is sociable, has numerous friends, craves excitement, is impulsive, care free and easy going (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1991). Whereas the conventional Neuroticist is anxious, a worrier, shy, moody and suffers from guilt and envy (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1991). For that reason it would be plausible to suggest that those high in Extraversion are more likely to communicate with others in both offline and online settings, compared to those high in Neuroticism.

1.5 Personality and Social Media

The current study takes into account two variables’ (Extraversion and Neuroticism) effect on social media use.

Variable 1: Extraversion

Research suggests that personality traits are associated with social media use (McElroy, Hendrickson, Townsend & DeMarie, 2007). Nonetheless, research has found mixed predictions between personality traits and social media use. Early research has found Extraversion to be a negative predictor of Internet activity in students and workers (Landers & Launsbury, 2004).

Considering this, more contemporary research has found a positive correlation between Extraversion and use of SNS (Correa, Hinsley & Zuniga, 2010; Bachrach, Kohli, Kosinski, Graepel & Stillwell, 2012). Corresponding research found that Extraversion was associated with the amount of posts made on the social networking site Facebook (Gosling, Augustine, Vazire, Holtzman & Gaddis, 2011). 

More specifically, Tosun and Lajunen (2009) found Extraversion to be related to maintaining long distance relationships on SNS and to using it to support face to face friendships. Tosun and Lajunen (2009) suggested SNS could be used as a social tool to assist face-to-face interactions and works as a ‘social extension’. An explanation for Extraverted individuals use of SNS comes from the ‘Social Enhancement Hypothesis’, which suggests that those who are more ‘popular’ in real life settings amplify their popularity through the use of Facebook (Zywica and Danowski, 2008). Thus, the current study predicts Extraversion to be a positive predictor of social media use.

Variable 2: Neuroticism

Early research by Amichai-Hamburger, Wainapel and Fox (2002) identified (using the ‘real life’ questionnaire) that those high in Neuroticism established their ‘real me’ on the Internet and those high in Extraversion established their ‘real me’ within face-to-face interactions. Their results highlight that for those high in Neuroticism, social media can provide an opportunity to express themselves and therefore may result in the use of SNS. This is critical as the failure to express ones self can result in psychological disturbances: therefore, it is important to consider Neuroticism’s influence on the use of SNS.

Likewise Amiel and Sargent (2004) found that those with high Neuroticism scores were interested in communistic activities on the Internet. This may suggest that those high in Neuroticism will interact on SNS that provide group interactions, such as Facebook. A possible explanation for the use of SNS by individuals high in Neuroticism, is that they use them to seek support for their anxious and nervous tendencies (Ehrenberg, Juckes, White & Walsh, 2008) as well as using social media to avoid lonliness (Butt & Philips, 2008).

Additionally Bargh, McKenna, and Fitzsimons (2002) identified that social interactions online are different to interactions offline due to them being less focussed on physical appearance and proximity. This may suggest that those high in Neuroticism will feel more confident interacting in online settings, such as SNS.

Alternatively, more recent research by Hughes, Rowe, Batey and Lee (2012) found certain SNS, such as Twitter, to be negatively associated with high levels of Neuroticism. Moreover, the nature of Neuroticism and its anxious tendencies would suggest that those high in Neuroticism may be too anxious to interact with others online, or post their own status and comments where they are vulnerable to judgements. Despite this, Wilson, Fornaiser and White (2010) found that Neuroticism was not associated with the use of SNS. Therefore it is difficult to predict the influence that Neuroticism has on social media use.

1.6 Current Study

The diversity across findings illustrates that questions around the concept of personality and social media are not straightforward. There are many different SNS that may differ results; thus the current study examines the relationship between personality traits and social media use on five different SNS.  As the use of the Internet and SNS is on the rise (Dong, Wang, Yang & Zhou, 2013) with a third of users of SNS checking their profile on a daily basis, another quarter checking SNS more than once a day (Correa, Hinsley & Zuniga, 2010); and both male and female students spending three hours on average a day on SNS (Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008), research in this area should be closely considered. The current study acknowledges two reasons for the research on personality and social media.

Firstly, personality traits are persistent through life and present ampel characteristics, which are associated with individuals’ behaviours. Secondly, the use of SNS is common across a vast amount of the population with over 400 million people using the Internet (Amiel & Sargent, 2004), where certain behaviours or characteristics may be displayed. (Landers & Launsbury, 2006) Moreover, the current study has important implications. One implication is that it is valuable for businesses to know who is using SNS and what exactly predicts individuals’ use of SNS to allow them to tailour advertising and website content to be specific to the users.

A second implication, is that the use of SNS may have negative consequences such a depression (Young & Rogers, 1998). Therefore, the understanding of which demographics are using SNS, may help further research into investigating the removal of the negative consequences.

The current study, to my knowledge, goes beyond previous research in this area, expanding where they fail to provide a representative sample of the general population (due to a majority of research only including students and or young adult participants). However, Internet use is constantly rising, not only within young adults, but across all ages.

Therefore this paper attempts to examine the effects of Extraversion and Neuroticism on social media use in ages from 18 to 74. This is undertaken by means of the short version Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQR-S) REF and a Social Networking Questionnaire, which involves five SNS (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Snapchat).

The Social Networking Questionnaire allows the current research to go beyond looking at the use of just Facebook. Due to Facebook being the most popular SNS (Duggan, Ellison, Lampre, Lenhart & Madden, 2015), research tends to make Facebook the focus. For example, Harbaugh (2010) found those who used Facebook frequently were seen as more extroverted. However, the use of SNS such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, are rising (Duggan, Ellison, Lampre, Lenhart & Madden, 2015) and therefore need to be considered.

The SNS ‘Snapchat’ has recently gained popularity, becoming the third most popular SNS after Facebook and Instagram. This has lead to research focused on Snapchat such as: a recent study by (Utz, Muscanell & Khalid, 2015) which found that Snapchat elicited higher levels of jealousy when compared to Facebook. This highlights that personality differences may be linked to individuals’ use of these certain SNS: consequently Snapchat was included in the Social Networking Questionnaire.

The current study recognises two reasons for using the EPQR-S REF. Firstly, cross-cultural studies have highlighted its reliability and validity across various cultures (Francis, Brown & Philipchalk, 1992). Secondly, the short nature of the questionnaire allows for participants to be more inclined to take part.

1.7 Hypothesis

Hypothesis: (H1)

Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of social media use.

a) Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of SNS membership i.e. how many SNS individuals are a member of

b) Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of how many hours spent on SNS

c) Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of how many posts made on SNS

d) Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of how many comments made on SNS e) Extraversion will be a significant positive predictor of how often individuals interact in debates on SNS

Research Questions: (R1)

Does Neuroticism predict social media use?  If so does Neuroticism predict:

a) SNS membership i.e. how many SNS individuals are a member of

b) how many hours spent on SNS

c) how many posts made on SNS

d) how many comments made on SNS

e) how often individuals interact in debates on SNS

This is presented as a research question due to previous research providing mixed conclusions, as well as the fact that the nature of Neuroticism contradicts previous findings.

2.0 Methods

2.1 Design

The current study takes a between-participant design. The current study is a correlational study with two independent variables (IV’s): Extraversion and Neuroticism and five dependent variables (DV’s): SNS membership, number of hours spent per day on social networking sites, how often individuals post on social networking sites each day, how many times individuals posted comments on social networking sites each day, and how many times individuals engaged in debates on social networking sites each day. Results of an a priori power analysis with the program G*Power (Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2009) indicated that assuming medium effect size of f-square= = .15, p level of .05, power = .80, and number of IVs = 2 the desired sample size was 68.

2.2 Participants

97 participants (aged between 18 and 74) were recruited (Mean age= 38, Standard Deviation=16.52), with 48 females and 49 males. Although the majority of participants were White British (74.2%), there was a variance across culture, including: Australian (4.12%), Non White British (6.19%), Indian (2.06%), African (1.03%), Pakistani (1.03%), Afro Caribbean (1.03%), Polish (1.03%), Mixed Race (4.12%) and Unknown (3.09%).

2.3 Materials

Independent Variables

Two IV’s (Extraversion and Neuroticism) were measured using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Revised Short Form (EPQR-S; Eysenck, Eysenck, & Barrett, 1985) which is a widely used scale (Campbell, Cumming & Hughes, 2006) consisting of 48 items to measure Extraversion, Neuroticism, Psychoticism and Lying. An example of the type of questions on the EPQR-S include ‘Do you often feel ‘fed-up’?’ and ‘Does your mood often go up and down?’. The scaling used to measure the IV’s took a dichotomous [1 = no, 2 = yes] format. Two psychometric tests were conducted (factor and reliability analyses) and from the results total scores were created for Extraversion and Neuroticism.

Dependent Variables

Five DV’s were measured using a paper Social Networking Questionnaire (see Appendix), looking at participants’ social media use on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram.

2.4 Procedure

Participants were recruited through opportunistic sampling across London and Essex. No incentive was offered. Ethics was approved by the Brunel University Department of Life Sciences Research Ethics Committee. (Appendix) Participants were also given a participant information sheet, consent form and were assured of their right to confidentiality and their ability to withdraw at any time. Before participants completed the two questionnaires (EPQR-S and Social Networking Questionnaire) they were asked to answer both questionnaires honestly. Both questionnaires together took an average of 15 minutes to complete. All participants took part in this study in a quiet environment and a pen was needed to complete both questionnaires. After both questionnaires were completed, participants were given a debrief form and debriefed.

3.0 Results

3.1 Factor and Reliability Analyses of Extraversion and Neuroticism Scales

A factor analysis was used to determine whether the EPQR-S measured the factors that Eysenck proposed. Inspection of the Screen plot (Figure 1) indicated that two factors (Extraversion and Neuroticism) were sufficient to explain substantial variance in scores on the EPQR-S item. Extraversion had an initial eigenvalue of 6.10, which explained 25.42% of variance.  Neuroticism had an initial eigenvalue of 3.55, which explained 14.81% of variance. As show in Table 1, every item that had been proposed as measuring a particular factor, yielded a factor loading of 0.30 on that factor and not on the other factor.  A reliability analysis of the Extraversion questions on EPQR-S revealed Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.893 and a reliability analysis of the Neuroticism questions on the EPQR-S revealed a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.790. These results suggest the EPQR-S to be reliable material for measuring the personality traits Extraversion and Neuroticism.

3.2 Main Analysis as Multivariate Multiple Regression Analyses of Personality Traits as Predictors of Social Media Use Variables

A multivariate multiple regression analysis was carried out to examine the interaction of two independent variables (IV’s), Extraversion and Neuroticism, on the 5 DV’s: SNS membership, how many hours participants spent on those sites, how many times a day the participant posted their own status on SNS, how many times a day the participants commented on those SNS, how many times a day participants interacted in a debate on SNS).

Correlation Matrix:

A correlation analysis of the dependent variables (DV’s) on the Social Networking Questionnaire was conducted, which revealed that all DV’s were correlated as shown in Table 2. (Appendix F)

Multivariate Test of Significance: Five dependent variables were used to determine social media use. The personality traits Extraversion and Neuroticism explained: 13% of variance of Site membership (r2=0.131), 5.3% of variance of hours spent on SNS (r2=0.053), 2.3% of variance of posts made on SNS (r2=0.023), 2.1% of variance of comments made on SNS (r2=0.021) and 1.7% of variance of debates made on SNS (r2=0.017).

Extraversion: Hypotheses suggested that Extraversion was to be a positive predictor of site membership, hours, posts, comments and debates. This appears to be false, as a Multivariate Regression Analysis found Extraversion to be a significant negative predictor of site membership [F(1, 97)=7.909 p=0.006, Beta=-0.091] as well as a marginally significant negative predictor of how many hours spent on SNS [F(1,97)=3.268, p=0.074, Beta=-0.081]. Extraversion was found to be a non-significant predictor of posts, comments or debates.

Neuroticism: Neuroticism was found to be a non-significant predictor of hours, posts, comments or debates. However, Neuroticism was found to be a significant negative predictor of SNS membership [F(1, 97=8.494, p=0.004, Beta=-0.121].

Univariate Tests of Significance: Extraversion was hypothesised to be a predictor of Social Media Use. As shown in Table 3, the results seemed to correspond with the hypothesis. Extraversion was found to be a marginally significant negative predictor (p< 0.10) of Social Media Use. In regards to the first research question, Neuroticism was found to be a non-significant predictor of Social Media Use.

4.0 Discussion

4.1 Summary of Results

This research aimed to investigate the effects of Extraversion and Neuroticism on social media use. Results found Extraversion to be a marginally significant negative predictor of social media use, which does not correspond with hypotheses. Neuroticism was found to be a non-significant predictor of social media use. More specifically Extraversion was found to be a negative predictor of SNS membership and a marginally significant negative predictor of hours spent on SNS. Extraversion was found to not be associated with posts or comments made on SNS as well as interaction in debates on SNS. Similar to Extraversion, Neuroticism was found to be a negative predictor of SNS membership and was found to not be associated with hours, posts or comments made on SNS as well as, interaction in debates on SNS.

4.2 Interpretation of Results

The results found suggest that the higher the Extraversion or Neuroticism score, the fewer SNS individuals will be a member of. However, the lack of significant results between Extraversion and Neuroticism with posts, comments and debates highlights that an association between these personality traits and certain activities on SNS, does not seem to exist. Likewise, the lack of a significant relationship between Neuroticism and social media use highlights that an association does not seem to exist between Neuroticism and social media use. These results seem to contradict previous research for example Müller, Dreier, Beutel, Duven, Giralt and Wölfling (2015), who found Extraversion to be a positive predictor of an individual’s use of SNS; as well as that of Amiel and Sargent (2004) who found Neuroticism to be associated with Internet activity. Therefore, other factors may influence the use of SNS and this needs to be explored.

4.3 Extraversion and Social Media Use

The current study found that the personality trait Extraversion plays a role in SNS membership and marginally in the use of social media. It’s important to note that the negative relationship found between Extraversion and SNS membership does not seem to be consistent with the majority of previous research in this area: for example research conducted by Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga (2010) who found a positive relationship between Extraversion and use of SNS. However, the findings are somewhat consistent with more contemporary research conducted by Servidio (2014) who found a negative relationship between Extraversion and Internet addiction in Italian Students as well as Coniglio, Sidoti, Pignato, Giammarco and Marranzano, (2012) who found a similar relationship.

Although Servidio (2014) research does not specifically consider social media use, it suggests that those high in Extraversion would not partake in excessive use of the Internet; which could include the use of SNS. Servidio (2014) acknowledged a possible explanation for the negative interaction suggesting that those with Extraverted traits will only partake in online activities if they find them significant and enjoyable. Conforming to Eysenck’s Arousal Theory of Extraversion, those individuals high in Extraversion are frequently bored and therefore turn towards external stimulation (Eysenck, 1967). Therefore, further research would need to consider gratification of SNS, to allow for a more distinct look at the relationship between personality and social media use.

Furthermore, those high in Extraversion may spend their time taking part in different activities that they find more stimulating. Extraversion has been associated with: excessive buying (Otero-López & Villadefrancos, 2013), partaking in vigorous physical activity (Brunner, 1969) and higher level of jobs (Judge, Kammeyer-Mueller, 2007). Thus, those high in Extraversion may spend their time partaking in different activities, explaining the negative association between Extraversion and how many SNS individuals are a member of.

Despite this, it is essential to note that previous research has found different results. For example, Tosun and Lajunen (2010) found that Extraversion was positively associated with social media use. Similarly, Schrock (2008) found that Extraversion was positively associated with SNS membership. An explanation for this relationship comes from Tosun and Lajunen (2010), who proposed that those who possess extraverted traits use the Internet and SNS as a ‘social extension’. This is the idea that SNS are used to extend the interactions with individuals that happen offline.

Nonetheless, the concept of ‘social extension’ could explain the inverse relationship between Extraversion and social media use, due to it only being an extension: if they can interact and communicate with others in offline settings, they will. Support for this proposition (that those high in Extraversion prefer face to face interaction) comes from research conducted by Harrington and Loffredo (2010), who found that participants who possessed Extraverted traits preferred face to face classes,compared to online classes.

To understand the inverse relationship between Extraversion and social media use it is important to acknowledge what Extraversion is. Extraversion is strongly related to social behaviour and an individual high in Extraversion tends to be outgoing, sociable and talkative (DeYoung, Weisberg & Peterson, 2013). Therefore it would be plausible to assume that those high in Extraversion would use SNS to socialise. However, results from the current study did not correspond with this.

Previous research has examined how individuals present themselves on social media. Seidman (2013) found that self-presentation online was best predicted by Neuroticism. Likewise, Amichai-Hamburger, Wainapel and Fox (2002) found that a positive correlation indicated Extraversion was associated with individuals displaying their “real me” in an offline settings compared to a virtual setting. Therefore, due to the anonymous nature of SNS, those high in Extraversion may prefer to interact with others offline and present themselves to others in real life settings. This would explain the negative interaction.

It is critical to recognise that Extraversion only marginally predicted Social Media Use and was found to be a non-significant predictor of posts, comments or debates made on SNS. The lack of relationship is interesting as previous research has found personality traits to predict SNS use (Vangeel, Cock, Klein, Minotte, Rosas & Meerker, 2016).  A possible explanation for this lack of relationship may be that an individual’s predisposition only leads them to use SNS in order to cope with stress (Buckner, Christopher & Sheets, 2012) or escape from the real world.

Support for this assumption comes from research conducted by Akin and Iskender (2011), who found that stress was positively correlated with Internet addiction. Therefore, although personality often provides explanations for individual differences in behaviour, it does not provide an explanation for the use of SNS.

4.4 Neuroticism and Social Media Use

Neuroticism was found to not be associated with overall social media use. These findings correspond with findings by Servidio (2014) who found no association between Neuroticism and Internet addiction; as well as the findings of Landers and Lounsbury (2006) and Park, Song and Teng (2011) who found similar results. Nevertheless, Neuroticism was found to be negatively associated with SNS membership.

This marginally corresponds with finding from Tuten and Bosnjak (2001), who found that Neuroticism was negatively related to web usage. They proposed that the inverse relationship was due to the individuals’ lack of confidence to seek information on the ‘web’. Additionally, Wilson, Fornaiser and White (2010) acknowledged that due to the insecure and anxious aspects of Neuroticism, those high in Neuroticism might not like the concept of posting their own information online.

Correspondingly, Neuroticism has been found to be negatively associated with self-esteem (Amirasodi & Amieasidi, 2011). Therefore, the negative association between Neuroticism and SNS membership may be due to individuals lacking the confidence or self-esteem to become a member and present themselves on SNS. Likewise, Ross et al. (2009) found a similar relationship and noted that those high in Neuroticism were more selective with their self-presentation online.

This could explain the negative association, as those high in Neuroticism may not become members of SNS because they are concerned with how they display themselves online. On the other hand, Amichai-Hamburger, Wainapel and Fox (2002) highlighted that those high in Neuroticism display their ‘real me’ in online settings, instead of offline settings. This would suggest that they actually use SNS to present themselves in a way, which they are too shy to do in offline settings.

Correspondly, the findings of Michikyan, Subrahmanyam and Dennis (2014) highlighted that those individuals high in Neuroticism display who they want to be on Facebook instead of their real self. This may therefore explain the inconsistencies of results regarding Neuroticism and social media use across research; as a result of individuals presenting themselves in different ways in different settings.

4.5 Personality and Social Media Use

As previously noted, there are inconsistencies across results when examining the relationship between Extraversion and Neuroticism and social media use. This raises questions about the consistency of Extraverted and Neurotic traits between online and offline settings. Wiggins (1968) acknowledges that Extraversion and Neuroticism are two of the ‘Big Five’ that are potent and regular personality dimensions that can explain social behaviour. However, SNS provide a lack of physical interaction, a sense of anonymity and the ability to control the reveal of information (Amichai-Hamburger, Wainapel & Fox, 2002).

This concept of an ‘online world’ allows individuals to express themselves. This raises the question of whether personality traits such as Extraversion and Neuroticism are as Jung, Eysenck and many more define them, due to certain settings being able to differ behaviors. This highlight that Extraversion and Neuroticism may not be as substantial as previously thought.

What is more, it is relevant to acknowledge the lack of non-significant results between Neuroticism and social media, as well as Extraversion and posts, comments and debates made on SNS. This may be due to the imperative nature of SNS and the Internet. SNS have become a part of every day life for many people and therefore personality may not play a huge part as it seems a social norm to partake in activities online (and therefore their personality is not a significant predicator of social media use).

4.6 Strengths and Limitations

The lack of significant results may suggest that it would be necessary instead focus on other personality traits. Various research has found conscientiousness and agreeableness to be associated with social media use (Choi & Shin, 2016). Asendorpf and Wilpers (1998) noted that those high in agreeableness have successful friendships. For those who look towards others for belongingness it may be important for those to express these needs over social media. Moreover research has found conscientiousness to be significantly correlated with social media use (Hughes, Rowe, Batey & Lee, 2011).

Ultimately, this study fails to consider these other personality traits and thus further research should take these into consideration. In addition, the absence of questions on specific areas of social media use on the Social Networking Questionnaire (for example ‘selfies’ or other pictures posted on SNS) may explain for the scarcity of significant results.

The rise of the ‘selfie’ (self portrayed photograph of one’s self) (Sorokowska et al., 2016) has developed to become an important part of social media. Taylor (2014) noted that 55% of individuals aged 18 to 33 have posted a ‘selfie’ on a SNS, as well as that an overall 26% of Americans have shared a ‘selfie’. The ‘selfie’ is therefore becoming an important part of social media use. Sorokowska et al. (2016) noted that the ‘selfie’ is used to display ones self on social media. They also found Extraversion to be positively correlated with posting ‘selfies’ on Facebook.

Likewise Paris and Pietschnig (2015) found that more extroverted individuals possessed more positive attitudes towards posting a ‘selfie’ online. The current study did not consider the ‘selfie’ when examining social media use and previous research has highlighted the significance of the ‘selfie’ in social media use, as well as its association with personality traits. Therefore the current study fails to examine a rounded contemporary view of social media use. However, regardless of the limitations mentioned above, to my knowledge the majority of research on social media is based on young adults.

This current study however investigates the use of social media in ages 18-74.  Social media use is increasing amongst the older generation and the current study allows a range of ages to be examined; which provided a more representative sample than previous research. In fact, the age range of participants in the current study may explain for the negative prediction between Extraversion and Social media use, as Hills and Argyle (2003) found age to be negatively associated with social media use: as the older the participants the less likely to be user on SNS. However, this may be due to older individuals not possessing the skills to use SNS.

Recent research by Niehaves and Plattfaut (2010) highlighted the willingness of the older generation to learn to use the Internet. Thus it is important to consider a range of ages when analysing the use of SNS. Social media is becoming a big part of society not just in a social context but also for its use in business. Many businesses have a Facebook page that allows consumers to keep up to date with the company, or for the company to advertise to consumers (Hartley, 2012).

Results from the current study provides an insight into who uses social media which has practical implications for companies in aiding them in tailoring social media content to the users. From a psychological perspective, social media has been seen to have negative consequences such as depression (Young & Rogers, 1998), changes in self-esteem (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006); or psychological disorders such as eating disorders (Derenne & Beresin, 2006).

The current study provides an insight into who uses social media and thus may be helpful when looking at how to reduce the negative consequences of social media. The current study has advanced research in this area.

Firstly, the data collected has analysed personality traits and social media use in a range of participants from different ethnic groups and a variety of ages; providing a broader picture of users of social media and their personalities.

Secondly, to my knowledge the current study is the first to include the SNS Snapchat when considering social media and personality, which is rising in popularity. Therefore, it provides an insight into other SNS beyond just Facebook, which seems to be the sole focus of the majority of research in this area.

4.7 Further Considerations

This paper proposes three important considerations for future research in this area. Firstly, an explanation of our results stated that an individual’s gratification level from using social media is an important factor in influencing their use of SNS and thus this needs to be accounted for in further research to achieve a clearer understand of the impact of personality on social media use.

Secondly, due to the fast-paced nature of the social media industry future research should be sure to consider all aspects of social media for example instant messaging, ‘selfies’ and any other developing component of social media to provide a more distinct picture of social media use.

Thirdly, another explanation of our results highlighted that personality traits may not be as substantial as previously thought. The development of a virtual world may produce differences in personality or different personality traits. Therefore, it is important to consider the consistency of personality traits across a variety of settings or provide alternative explanations for the differences in personalities presented in online settings.

5.0 Conclusion

The current study demonstrated a marginal relationship between Extraversion and social media use. More specifically, results suggest that the higher the Extraversion score the individual will use social media less compared to those with low Extraversion scores. Likewise, results demonstrated that Extraversion was negatively correlated with how many SNS individuals was a member of and Neuroticism showed a similar relationship. However, the current study demonstrated that a relationship did not exist between Neuroticism and social media use. Thus the current study adds to the argument that certain personality traits may predict certain behaviours online however further research should examine specific personality traits and their influence on specific activities on SNS, as well as considering whether personality traits are consistent between offline and online settings.

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7.0 Appendices

Appendix E - Social Networking Questionnaire

Social Networking Questionnaire

1 - Gender: Female/Male

2 - Age:

3 - Ethnic Group Membership:

4 - Are you a member of a social networking site? Yes/No

5 -  If you answered yes please Circle which sites you are a member of?

Facebook Instagram Twitter Tumblr Snapchat

6 - Please state how many hours a day do you spend on social networking sites

7 - Please state how often a day do you post your own status on a social networking site (e.g. 2 times a day)

8 - Please state how often a day do you post a comment on someone else’s post on a social networking site? (e.g. 2 times a day)

9 - How often a day do you get involved in a debate on a social networking site? (e.g. 2 times a day)

Appendix F - Table 1. Factor Matrix

   Factor          1             2
Are you mostly quiet when you are with other people?                        .827        .008
Do you keep in the background at social occasions?                        .765        .077
Do others think you are lively?                        .734        .095
Can you get the party going?                        .721         .021
Can you easily bring life to a dull party?                        .700        -.186
Are you a talkative person?                        .655         .005
Are you rather lively?                        .644        -.140
Can you usually let yourself go and enjoy yourself at a lively party?                        .589        -.088
Do you like plenty of bustle and excitement around you?                         .525        .028
Do you usually take initiative in making new friends?                         .511       -.114
Do you enjoy mixing with other people?                         .493       -.147
Do you enjoy meeting new people?                         .466       -.181
Does your mood often go up and down?                         .088       .624
Do you often feel fed up?                        -.056        .615
Are you often troubled by feelings of guilt?                        -.178        .521
Do you ever feel just miserable for no reason?                         .074        .513
Do you suffer from nerves?                        -.148        .481
Do you often feel lonely?                        -.198        .478
25Are you a worrier                        -.175        .469
9Are you an irritable person?                         .258        .440
30Would you call yourself tense or highly-strung?                         .118       .438
21Would you call yourself a nervous person?                        -.371        .435
13Are your feelings easily hurt                        -.031        .418
34Do you worry too long after an embarrassing experience?                        -.103        .401

Appendix G - Table 2. Correlations

  Sites Hours Post Comments Debates Extraversion Neuroticism
Sites- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) 1 .529 .000 .316 .002 .306 .002 .126 .219 -.228 .025 -.240 .018
Hours- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) .529 .000 1 .512 .000 .307 .002 .250 .014 -.157 .126 -.140 .172
Posts- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) .316 .002 .512 .000 1 .427 .000 .498 .000 -.121 .237 -.070 .495
Comments- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) .306 .002 .307 .002 .427 .000 1 .350 .000 .023 .820 -.145 .156
Debates- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) .126 .219 .250 .014 .498 .000 .350 .000 1 -.091 .378 -.077 .455
Extraversion- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) -.228 .025 -.157 .126 -.121 .237 .023 .820 -.091 .378 1 -.161 .115
Neuroticism- Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) -.240 .018 -.140 .172 -.070 .495 -.145 .156 -0.77 .455 -.161 .115 1
Effect Value F Hypothesis df Error df Sig. Partial Eta Squared Noncent. Parameter Observed Power
Intercept-Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .275 .725 .380 .380 6.839b 6.839b 6.839b 6.839b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .000 .000 .000 .000 .275 .275 .275 .275 34.196 34.196 34.196 34.196 .997 .997 .997 .997
Extraversion- Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .099 .901 .110 .110 1.973b 1.973b 1.973b 1.973b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .090 .090 .090 .090 .099 .099 .099 .099 9.866 9.866 9.866 9.866 .639 .639 .639 .639
Neuroticism- Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .090 .910 .099 .099 1.779b 1.779b 1.779b 1.779b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .125 .125 .125 .125 .090 .090 .090 .090 8.895 8.895 8.895 8.895 .587 .587 .587 .587

Appendix G - Table 3. Regression Analysis

Effect Value F Hypothesis df Error df Sig. Partial Eta Squared Noncent. Parameter Observed Power
Intercept-Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .275 .725 .380 .380 6.839b 6.839b 6.839b 6.839b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .000 .000 .000 .000 .275 .275 .275 .275 34.196 34.196 34.196 34.196 .997 .997 .997 .997
Extraversion- Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .099 .901 .110 .110 1.973b 1.973b 1.973b 1.973b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .090 .090 .090 .090 .099 .099 .099 .099 9.866 9.866 9.866 9.866 .639 .639 .639 .639
Neuroticism- Pillai’s Trace Wilk’s Lambda Hotelling’s Trace Roy’s Largest Root .090 .910 .099 .099 1.779b 1.779b 1.779b 1.779b 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 90.000 .125 .125 .125 .125 .090 .090 .090 .090 8.895 8.895 8.895 8.895 .587 .587 .587 .587

Appendix H Figure 1. Screen Plot

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