Disordered social media use and risky drinking in young adults: Differential associations with addiction-linked traits

Michael Lyvers*, Shreas S. Narayanan, Fred A. Thorberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Excessive or compulsive use of social media has been likened to an addiction, similar to other behavioural addictions such as pathological gambling or Internet addiction. This investigation sought to determine the degree to which personality traits associated with such disordered social media use overlap with those known to predict problematic substance use, with use of the most commonly abused legal substance alcohol as an example of the latter. Method: Well-known indices of disordered social media use, risky or problematic alcohol use, and the personality traits alexithymia, reward sensitivity, narcissism, and impulsivity were administered online to 143 men and women aged 18–35 years who were regular users of social media. The traits examined had previously been linked to substance misuse for a variety of substances, including alcohol, as presumed predisposing factors. Results: After controlling for age, gender, and social desirability in hierarchical regressions, disordered social media use was predicted by narcissism, reward sensitivity, and impulsivity, whereas risky alcohol use was predicted by narcissism, alexithymia, and impulsivity. The ability of narcissism to predict disordered social media use was mediated by reward sensitivity, which was not the case for risky drinking. Conclusions: Present results point to similarities and differences in addiction-linked traits when comparing disordered social media use to risky or problematic substance use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-231
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2018


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