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Either You Control Social Media Or Social Media Controls You : A Multi-Paradigmatic Approach To Understanding Excessive Social Media Use

Research Area:  Social Networks


   Social media has created new ways to engage in social interaction. Notwithstanding its positive impact, researchers have warned that excessive social media use undermines personal well-being. Apart from this, recent studies have revealed an inconsistency between attitudes towards social media and actual behaviour: users may have negative feelings about social media use but still log in every day. This paradox is attributed to impulsivity, which is difficult to control and reflect on. However, current papers rely mostly on self-report measures and investigate conscious attitudes rather than non- conscious impulsive behaviours.
   This thesis includes two sequential studies. Study One presents the first known attempt to review the current literature on the conceptualization of self-control on social media. As a result, the chronological order of the applied frameworks demonstrates a gradual switch from theories of planned behaviour to theories interpreting non-planned behaviour and self-control failures. This explains the focus of recent studies on impulsivity and dual-system theories in the context of social media use. Following the findings of the literature review, Study Two provides evidence that excessive social media users demonstrate an imbalance between the impulsive and reflective systems in their minds.
   Drawing on dual-system and self-control theories, this research empirically investigates relationships between implicit attitudes towards social media and its excessive use. For this, implicit and explicit measurements are combined in one study. The findings show that excessive social media users are guided by their implicit attitudes rather than explicit beliefs and intentions. Although a high level of self-control is a significant indicator of healthy social media use, it is not helpful for excessive users with a positive implicit attitude and high impulsive use. Such a duality of self-control dispels beliefs about its ultimate power and raises questions about business ethics. To sum up, this thesis (1) reviews current self-control frameworks with regard to the social media context and provides deeper theoretical knowledge for future self-control interventions; (2) fills a theoretical gap by conceptualizing what constitutes excessive social media use; and (3) offers practical suggestions for non-academic stakeholders on how to reduce excessive use and promote positive well-being.

Name of the Researcher:  Zahrai, Kseniia

Name of the Supervisor(s):  Ekant Veer,Paul Ballantine

Year of Completion:  2020

University:  University of Canterbury

Thesis Link:   Home Page Url