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  • Author or Editor: Dar Meshi x
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Background and aims

Online social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook provide users with myriad social rewards. These social rewards bring users back to SNSs repeatedly, with some users displaying maladaptive, excessive SNS use. Symptoms of this excessive SNS use are similar to symptoms of substance use and behavioral addictive disorders. Importantly, individuals with substance use and behavioral addictive disorders have difficulty making value-based decisions, as demonstrated with paradigms like the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT); however, it is currently unknown if excessive SNS users display the same decision-making deficits. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between excessive SNS use and IGT performance.

Methods

We administered the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) to 71 participants to assess their maladaptive use of the Facebook SNS. We next had them perform 100 trials of the IGT to assess their value-based decision making.

Results

We found a negative correlation between BFAS score and performance in the IGT across participants, specifically over the last block of 20 trials. There were no correlations between BFAS score and IGT performance in earlier blocks of trials.

Discussion

Our results demonstrate that more severe, excessive SNS use is associated with more deficient value-based decision making. In particular, our results indicate that excessive SNS users may make more risky decisions during the IGT task.

Conclusion

This result further supports a parallel between individuals with problematic, excessive SNS use, and individuals with substance use and behavioral addictive disorders.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

People can engage in excessive, maladaptive use of social media platforms. This problematic social media use mirrors substance use disorders with regard to symptoms and certain behavioral situations. For example, individuals with substance use disorders demonstrate aberrations in risk evaluations during decision making, and initial research on problematic social media use has revealed similar findings. However, these results concerning problematic social media use have been clouded by tasks that involve learning and that lack a clear demarcation between risky and ambiguous decision making. Therefore, we set out to specifically determine the relationship between problematic social media use and decision making under both risk and ambiguity, in the absence of learning.

Methods

We assessed each participant's (N = 90) self-reported level of problematic social media use. We then had them perform the wheel of fortune task, which has participants make choices between a sure option or either a risky or ambiguous gamble. In this way, the task isolates decisions made under risk and ambiguity, and avoids trial-to-trial learning. Results: We found that the greater an individual's problematic social media use, the more often that individual choses high-risk gambles or ambiguous gambles, regardless of the degree of ambiguity.

Discussion and conclusions

Our findings indicate that greater problematic social media use is related to a greater affinity for high-risk situations and overall ambiguity. These findings have implications for the field, specifically clarifying and extending the extant literature, as well as providing future avenues for research.

Open access