Authors:Cornelia Sindermann, Rayna Sariyska, Bernd Lachmann, Matthias Brand and Christian Montag
Background and aims
Despite indications that the dark triad of personality might be associated with Internet-use disorder (IUD), research about these associations is lacking.
Two studies were performed to grasp the links between these variables. In the first study, a sample consisting of N = 468 participants (n = 130 males) filled in the Short Dark Triad Questionnaire to assess scores in the dark triad of personality and the short Internet Addiction Test to assess tendencies toward unspecified IUD. In the second study, another independent sample of N = 472 participants (n = 143 males) filled in the same questionnaires plus items about specific forms of IUD.
Traits Machiavellianism and psychopathy were positively linked to tendencies toward unspecified IUD in both samples and males and females. Regarding the associations between tendencies toward specific IUDs and the dark triad of personality, no significant associations were found in males (at least not passing correction procedures for multiple testing). In females, trait Machiavellianism/psychopathy and tendencies toward Internet-shopping disorder, trait psychopathy, and tendencies toward Internet-pornography-use disorder as well as trait Machiavellianism and tendencies toward Internet-communication disorder were significantly positively correlated [at least one of the (sub)scales assessing the respective specific IUD was significantly associated with the respective dark triad trait even after correction procedures for multiple testing]. No robust pattern of associations between trait narcissism and unspecified/specific forms of IUD could be observed across (sub)samples.
Discussion and conclusions
These results indicate positive associations of the traits Machiavellianism and psychopathy (on a subclinical level) with tendencies toward IUD, especially unspecified IUD. The associations with tendencies toward specific forms of IUD seem more complex with differential personality correlates for each specific IUD. These associations need to be replicated.
The present theoretical paper introduces the smartphone technology as a challenge for diagnostics in the study of Internet use disorders and reflects on the term “smartphone addiction.”
Such a reflection is carried out against the background of a literature review and the inclusion of Gaming Disorder in ICD-11.
We believe that it is necessary to divide research on Internet use disorder (IUD) into a mobile and non-mobile IUD branch. This is important because certain applications such as the messenger application WhatsApp have originally been developed for smartphones and enfold their power and attractiveness mainly on mobile devices.
Discussion and conclusions
Going beyond the argumentation for distinguishing between mobile and non-mobile IUD, it is of high relevance for scientists to better describe and understand what persons are actually (over-)using. This is stressed by a number of examples, explicitly targeting not only the diverse contents used in the online world, but also the exact behavior on each platform. Among others, it matters if a person is more of an active producer of content or passive consumer of social media.