The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
The internet is now incorporated into every aspect of life. It seems that no activity is completely isolated from technology or the internet. But although the internet has completely changed the fabric of our lives, some people still manage this relationship better than others.
While some people can easily develop healthy relationships and boundaries with their internet usage, others seem to be hooked to their screens all day. Why is this? Does our personality predispose our internet behaviors? And if so, which personality traits correlate with
internet addiction? Read on to learn more about the traits that make up personality, as well as which ones may lead to internet addiction.
What Are The Big Five Personality Traits?
Before discussing which traits are linked most to internet addiction, we need to discuss which personality traits we are using for this discussion. Though there are many assessments and theories that define personality, for the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the big five personality theories.
The big five personality theory has been a popular model of personality for decades. It consists of the following personality traits: openness, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. Each trait is a spectrum, with any individual falling somewhere between two extremes. Below are basic descriptions of each personality trait in this model.
- Openness: This trait refers to the eagerness to learn, be creative, and try new adventures. People who are open love to experience new things and ideas and have a wide range of interests and passions. Those who are low on this trait tend to be seen as more traditional and struggle to move beyond their comfort zone.
- Extraversion: This trait refers to how much an individual becomes energized when around other people. Those who are extroverted enjoy the company of people and are energized when in group settings. Individuals that are low in this trait (introverts) will prefer more alone time or smaller group settings.
- Conscientiousness: The trait measures thoughtfulness, impulse control, and goal-based behaviors. People who are on the higher end of this spectrum are more mindful and exhibit more willpower. They also tend to be more organized and plan ahead well. Someone low on the spectrum tends to procrastinate more often or fail to complete their tasks on time.
- Neuroticism: This trait measures the emotional stability of a person. A person who is highly neurotic is incredibly moody and emotionally unstable. They may tend towards negativity, irritability, and various mood disorders. Individuals who are low on this spectrum tend to be more emotionally stable and happier overall.
- Agreeableness: This trait measures an individual’s capacity for altruism, kindness, and empathy. A highly agreeable individual will be a very kind and selfless person. Conversely, someone low on this trait will be selfish, disagreeable, and mean.
If you’re interested in learning more about these personality traits or want to read about other personality theories and assessments, you can find more information and resources at BetterHelp.
Which Traits Are Most Likely To Lead To An Internet Addiction?
Out of the five personality traits, the only trait that positively correlates with internet addiction is neuroticism. That means that individuals who are highly neurotic tend to spend more time on the internet than those who are high in any of the other traits.
There are many reasons why neuroticism is the primary factor in predicting internet addiction. First, those who have neurotic personalities experience mood swings and extreme emotions more than other people. The internet offers them an escape and a way to avoid those unpleasant emotions. Like other addictions, it is a comfort.
Second, individuals with neurotic personalities tend to have more difficulties maintaining in-person relationships. This may be due to their fluctuating emotions and overall negative predisposition. Therefore, interacting with people online instead of in person may be less stressful or emotional.
Finally, primarily living on the internet creates a more controllable life and environment for someone with high levels of neuroticism. These individuals can become stressed at the slightest environmental changes or stressors, so they prefer environments over which they have more control. The internet offers them this stable and controllable environment.
It is important to note that just because someone is not neurotic does not mean they won’t develop an internet addiction. So far, research shows that those who score high on the other traits have a negative correlation with internet addictions. However, there is little research on those who score low on these traits.
It is possible that someone who is not neurotic but is low in another trait may develop an addiction. For example, someone who has low conscientiousness may become addicted to the internet because they do not have as much mindfulness or willpower as others. Furthermore, someone who is introverted may prefer online interactions as opposed to in-person ones.
Just because your personality traits give you a predisposition towards an internet addiction does not mean that you are stuck with these behaviors. As with all behaviors and habits, you can create boundaries and find treatment through mindfulness, a healthy lifestyle, or therapy. If you struggle with an internet or technology addiction, discuss the issue with a therapist to find coping, management, and treatment options.