B3962 - The association of the Big 5 personality traits with social media usage in a UK population - 27/01/2022

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Claire Haworth | University of Bristol (UK)
Mr. Nile Shaw, Ms. Nina Di Cara
Title of project: 
The association of the Big 5 personality traits with social media usage in a UK population
Proposal summary: 

This project will investigate the relationship between the Big 5 personality traits and social media usage of individuals in the ALSPAC cohort. The Five Factor Model of personality has been used extensively in psychology to predict attitudes and behaviour. The Big-Five personality traits act on a spectrum and consist of the following: Openness to Experience (characterised by one’s willingness to try new things as well as engage in imaginative and intellectual activities); Conscientiousness (associated with organisation, thoughtfulness and impulse control); Extroversion (characterised by the tendency and intensity to which someone seeks engagement with their environment); Agreeableness (concerned with how people tend to treat relationships with others) and Neuroticism: (associated with one’s overall emotional stability). With the recent rise in people using social media, there is growing interest in the association between personality and social media use. So far, this association has only been explored in US, Asian and Australian populations, with less focus on this association in a UK population. Further, past meta-analyses of the association between personality and social media use have arrived at different conclusions about which traits are associated with social media use and the effect size of these associations. This is likely due to varying definitions of social media use.
Current research has primarily focused on single platform use, but as the majority of people using social media use more than one platform, there is the need to investigate the relationship with multi-platform use. Most studies examining the relationship between social media use and the Big Five personality traits have measured social media usage by using the most popular site, Facebook and a few studies have focused on general use of platforms. Understanding the link between personality and social media use is important because Neuroticism is associated with anxiety and depression, therefore it may be a confounding variable that future studies should take into account when exploring the association between multiple social media usage and anxiety/depression. There is also evidence of a link between multiple platform use and mental health difficulties, so it is important to understand the link between personality and social media use within the context of more than one social media platform. Taking this into consideration, this study aims to elucidate the associations between personality and social media use by concentrating on just a single definition of social media use (frequency of visits to a social media site) and examining this by focusing on one specific platform as well as multi-platform use of social media.
Exploratory analyses will also be run to examine potential moderators of the association between personality and social media use, such as gender and ethnicity, to help further explain the relationship.

Impact of research: 
By examining the association between personality traits and social media use in a UK sample, this research will convey whether the findings found in other populations around the world are also consistent with UK populations. This research may also help to explain why previous literature has arrived at different conclusions for the association of personality traits with social media. Exploring multi-platform use and personality traits will facilitate future research that goes beyond the domain of one individual social networking site. Moreover, personality traits may be confounding variables in the interaction between multiple social media use and wellbeing outcomes and identification of this will help guide future research. The findings may reveal how social media researchers should be mindful that users of different platforms are different to each other in terms of personality and this research will help to provide insight and hence enhance this understanding. Finally, given the particular focus of the impact of social media on young women’s mental health further analyses will help to provide an insight into whether the interaction of personality traits with social media varies by gender.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 22 December, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 27 January, 2022
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Personality, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality