Undergraduate Final Year Project

Relationships between trait impulsivity and problematic online behaviours

As we further integrate our online and offline lives the question of how human behaviour and
wellbeing is impacted is ever prominent in the minds of both researchers and the public.
Much research has been done on the addictive nature of social media (Tan, 2019). This study
looked into Problematic Internet Use and Social Media Intensity using more up-to-date
measures as suggested by the BPS cyberpsychology section website (BPS, 2020). Past
research has shown the comorbidity of psychological distress and problematic internet use
and the role impulsivity has in enabling such behaviours. PIU may include but is not limited
to cyberbullying, trolling and addiction, including connection to offline activities such as
alcoholism (Hwang et al., 2014) and problemed sleep (Grant & Chamberlain, 2018). This
study was conducted using a Qualtrics survey that included questions from PIU9, an adapted
Facebook intensity (SMI) and the UPPSP impulsivity measure. Participants (n=100) were
aged between 18 and 70 (M = 29.89, SD = 12.55 years) 61 female, 38 male and largely from
the UK. Results showed significant correlation between Impulsivity as predictor variable and
SMI and PIU as outcome variables with Negative and Positive Urgency subscales significant
predictors for SMI and PIU. Regression analysis showed Negative Urgency was the best
predictor of PIU and Positive. This is in line with previous research for PIU, but is a novel
finding for SMI. The implications of this study show the importance of continued research
into social media and the impact on well-being as we spend longer online.