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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 108-111

A study on relationship of internet addictive behavior with personality traits among medical students


Department of Psychiatry, S. P. Medical College and Associate Group of P. B. M. Hospital, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India

Date of Web Publication4-Nov-2016

Correspondence Address:
Girish Chandra Baniya
Department of Psychiatry, S. P. Medical College and Associate Group of P. B. M. Hospital, Bikaner, Rajasthan
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0971-8990.193429

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  Abstract 

Context: Internet addiction is less researched entity in developing countries. There has been an explosive growth in the use of internet worldwide including India in the last decade. Aims: To study the relationship of internet addictive behavior with personality characteristics among medical students. Settings and Design: This was a cross-sectional observational study carried out on 140 medical students. Subjects and Methods: All the students were taken randomly. Assessment of sociodemographic details was done with the help of  semi-structured pro forma, and internet addiction test and big five inventory were used to assess internet addictive behavior and personality traits. Statistical Analysis Used: For comparison of dichotomous variables, Chi-square test was used. Correlation and linear regression were applied to see association. Data analysis was done with the help of  statistical software SPSS 23. 0 (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences by IBM Corporation). Results: Mean score of internet addiction scale among medical students was 33.94 (standard deviation 13.592). It was found that higher neuroticism (β =0.242, P = 0.004) and less extroversion (β = −0.210, P = 0.011) displayed significant associations with internet addictive behavior. Conclusions: Neurotic individuals tend to experience increased levels of stress and interpersonal conflict because of this personality trait. Internet addictive behavior was lower on extroversion traits because they are more in social activities, making friend easily, and cheerful.

Keywords: Conscientiousness, extroversion, five-factor model of personality, internet addictions, neuroticism


How to cite this article:
Saini VK, Baniya GC, Verma KK, Soni A, Kesharwani S. A study on relationship of internet addictive behavior with personality traits among medical students. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2016;21:108-11

How to cite this URL:
Saini VK, Baniya GC, Verma KK, Soni A, Kesharwani S. A study on relationship of internet addictive behavior with personality traits among medical students. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Aug 24];21:108-11. Available from: http://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2016/21/2/108/193429


  Introduction Top


The internet has connected people around the world, providing endless sources of information, communication, and entertainment. [1] With expanded openness of web, web compulsion is turning into a major issue around the world, particularly among teenagers. Internet addiction is less researched entity in developing countries. There has been an explosive growth in the use of internet not only in India but also worldwide in the last decade. There were about 42 million active internet users in urban India in 2008 when compared to 5 million in 2000. [2] India now has the world's third largest national digital population, with approximately, 120 million internet users in 2011. [3]

Young claims internet addiction is a broad term that covers a wide variety of behaviors and impulse control problems. [4] She claims this is categorized by five specific subtypes: Cybersexual addiction: compulsive use of adult websites for cybersex and cyberporn. Cyber-relationship addiction: overinvolvement in online relationships. Net compulsions: obsessive online gambling, shopping, or day trading. Information overload: compulsive web surfing or database searches. Computer addiction: obsessive computer game playing. Internet gaming disorder has significant public health importance, and additional research may eventually lead to evidence that internet gaming disorder (also commonly referred to as internet use disorder, internet addiction, or gaming addiction) has merit as an independent disorder. [5]

Even though the use of developing technologies makes our daily lives easier, individuals, especially children and the adolescents, are adversely influenced by misuse or overuse of technologies, computers, and the internet. Since children and the young are still psychologically immature, they constitute a potential risk group for internet addiction. [6]

Students are more prone to internet abuse for several reasons - natural affinity toward the internet, free and unlimited access, flexible schedules, and freedom from parental interference. [4],[7],[8]

One of the most influential personality theories is the five-factor model of personality which differentiates between five main dimensions: (1) neuroticism (e.g., being nervous and anxiety prone), (2) extroversion (e.g., being talkative and outgoing), (3) openness to experience (being imaginative and intellectually oriented), (4) agreeableness (e.g., being sympathetic and warm), and (5) conscientiousness (e.g., being organized and prompt). The traits of the five-factor model have been validated across several cultures. [9]

Although studies have identified a number of factors associated with internet addiction, personality traits stand out as one of the most important factors. Although personality traits are linked with internet use, various studies have reported conflicting findings regarding the effects of the same personality traits on internet use. Furthermore, a review of the literature indicates that there are a limited number of studies regarding the subject. [10]

Many researchers studied the personality characteristics of problematic internet users, and they have linked internet use to specific individual characteristics. Several studies [11],[12] observed that internet use may help extroverts to garner more social support but allow introverts to remain isolated and lonely. Dependent users were found to rank highly in terms of self-reliance, emotional sensitivity and reactivity, vigilance, low-disclosure, and nonconformist characteristics. [13] There is a concern among educators about the impact of the internet on the well-being of the students because of the psychological addictive characteristics of the internet.

The present study aimed to investigate the associations of personality traits, based on the five-factor model, with addictive behaviors related to internet usage in a sample of medical students. Hope our results can be helpful for a better understanding of etiopathology of web-related addictive behaviors and have implications for psychoeducation and psychotherapy programs.


  Subjects and Methods Top


This cross-sectional study was conducted in October 2015. Participants were recruited from medical college of Bikaner using random cluster sampling. In total, 140 students participated in the survey. The test was administered one to one session. All students in the selected classes of different semesters were invited to participate in the survey. The purposes of the study were fully introduced, and consents were obtained before data collection. Ethical approval was obtained from the Ethical Committee of the college.

Sociodemographic information questionnaire

It includes participant's background characteristics include age (18-30), gender, self-rated academic performance, family type, and locality. It also includes information regarding internet usages such as internet use in a day, internet experience, and preferable time for internet access.

Internet addiction test

Addictive behavior was identified with internet addiction test which is developed by Dr. Young. [14] It had twenty items, scored on 5-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 5 (0: Does not apply, 1: Rarely, 2: Occasionally, 3: Frequently, 4: Often, and 5: Always).

Big five personality inventory

Personality traits were evaluated utilizing the 10-item brief version of the big five inventory. [15] The scale measures five measurements of personality (extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness) The reaction is a 5-point Likert scale (1: Disagree strongly, 2: Disagree a little, 3: Neither agree nor disagree, 4: Agree a little, and 5: Agree strongly). Extroversion: 1R, 6, Agreeableness: 2, 7R, Conscientiousness: 3R, 8, Neuroticism: 4R, 9, and Openness to Experience: 5R, 10 (R = item is reversed scored).

Ethical aspects

All the ethical aspects of the study were taken care of. The study was approved by the Research Review Board and Ethical Committee of the Institution. Informed consent was obtained from the subject before participation in the study.


  Results Top


The sample consisted of 89 males (63.4%) and 51 females (36.6%). Most of them belong to nuclear or extended nuclear families (54.3%), self-rated academic performance was good (53.6%), internet use of <2 h (49.3%), using internet from last 2-5 years (53.8%), preferable accessible time for use was after 9 pm (65%), and residence of urban areas (60%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of sociodemographic variables


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After applying correlation between internet addictive behavior and big five inventory, it was found that internet addictive behavior was significantly correlated with extroversion (r = −0.250, P = 0.03) and neuroticism (r = 0.277, P = 0.01) with the internet addictive behavior. We did not find any significant correlation between internet addictive behavior and gender (r = 0.054, P = 0.526) [Table 2].
Table 2: Correlation between internet addictive behavior (internet addiction test total) and personality traits


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In linear regression analysis, it was found that higher neuroticism (β =0.242, P = 0.004) and less extroversion (β = −0.210, P = 0.011) displayed significant associations with internet addictive behavior [Table 3].
Table 3: Regression analysis to see relation between internet addiction score and personality traits


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  Discussion Top


Our study was aimed to examine the associations between personality traits and internet addictive behaviors among medical students. The results demonstrated a significant difference in personality traits.

In our study, it was found that neuroticism was positively associated with internet addiction. These obtained results were consistent with other studies. Higher neuroticism (β =0.15, P < 0.001) and less conscientiousness (β =0.12, P < 0.001) displayed significant associations with internet addiction in general. [16] According to five trait personality model, neurotic individuals experience anger, anxiety, irritability, apprehension, depression, and feeling of insecurity/vulnerability. [17] Neurotic individuals tend to experience increased levels of stress and interpersonal conflict because of this personality trait. They are unable to cope with stress enough. This indicates that they have a higher risk of developing addiction. Internet addiction is significantly and positively correlated with neuroticism. [18] Several researchers have found that those who were high on traits of neuroticism likely to use the internet as coping strategy. [19] Problematic internet use has a negative impact on well-being and that neurotic individuals are more likely to be dependent on the internet than nonneurotic individuals. [2],[20] In our study, extroversion was negatively associated with internet addiction. This finding is also consistent with many previous studies. As extravert individuals indulge more in social activities, making friendly easily, cheerful, sociable, have positive emotions, enthusiastic, active, and talkative, whereas introvert individuals fail to cope with emotional and physical stress effectively, have difficulty making friends and establishing social relationships, and thus are relatively more susceptible to addiction. Individuals with internet addiction were lower on extroversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience and conscientiousness. [21],[22],[23] Studies indicate that people with low levels of extraversion use the internet more frequently and may be at a higher risk of internet addiction. [24],[25]

Research has shown that internet use is positively correlated with extroversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, whereas there is a negative correlation between internet use and neuroticism and openness to experience. [26],[27] These results were not consistent with our study. This might be due culture or sociodemographic variation. In our study, we found that a highly extroverted personality may demonstrate the lower use of personal information than less extroverted personalities. It seems that introverts transfer their pattern of introverted behavior from the offline into the online world. This is reflected in the size of their social network which tends to be smaller than that of the extroverts. However, introverts place more personal information on their Facebook profiles as compared with extroverts. This may be explained by the fact that extroverts rely on their social skills, and so feel less need to promote themselves. [28]


  Conclusion Top


Neurotic individuals tend to experience increased levels of stress and interpersonal conflict because of this personality trait. Internet addictive behavior was lower on extroversion traits because they are more in social activities, making friend easily, and cheerful.

Limitations

  • This was a cross-sectional study and limited to one center, so data may differ according to sociodemographic and cultural background
  • We did not rule out the internet addictive behavior between day scholar and living in hostels
  • A usual limitation of this study was access to the internet (e.g. home setting/public setting/personal use or not/speed of internet/limited or unlimited plan).
Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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