A study published in the Australian Journal of Psychology found certain similarities and differences in personality traits when comparing compulsive use of social media with problematic or risky alcohol use.
In the study of 143 young men and women, both disordered social media and risky alcohol use were predicted by narcissism and impulsivity. The former was also predicted by reward sensitivity (behavior that is motivated by the prospect of access to a reward), whereas the latter was also predicted by alexithymia (an inability to identify and describe the emotional feelings of oneself and others).
“Future work is needed to further elucidate both the similarities and the differences in risk factors between substance and behavioral addictions. Results would be potentially informative for clinicians involved in the treatment of those exhibiting such disordered behaviors,” said lead author Dr. Michael Lyvers, of Bond University, in Australia. “For example, based on the present results, targeting impulsiveness and other signs of executive dyscontrol may be as relevant to successful treatment of disordered social media use as for disordered substance use, whereas for clients high in narcissism, targeting the drive for positive social reward might prove particularly useful in treating disordered social media use.”