The internet is now a major networking medium. People are also using it for different purposes, such as business purchases, news searching, sending emails, playing sports, and, among others, staying in contact with friends and family. The internet has since been a medium that affects every part of our lives, so it has a huge effect on changing most people’s lives and attitudes. Social networking sites have made it easier for users to do all these things easily, explaining why in the past three years the number of people using social media has grown significantly. For instance, through Facebook people can form online communities, meet new friends, and advertise their businesses for free. People have different personality factors that may affect why and how they use different forms of social media. These personality factors interact and shape the online behavior of the person.
Personality Factors Associated with Individuals Social Media Use
Some of the personality factors that affect the social media use can be linked closely to the trait perspective theory of personality. The five big personalities which include extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness all influence the use of social media by people (Carver & Scheier, 2017). These big five personality traits have great effects on human behavior and attitudes. Consequently, they have an influence on the degree to which a person accepts and uses social media. The motive perspective can also be used to explain the reasons behind the use of social media by individuals. People have different needs which while combined with external influences lead to motives (Carver & Scheier, 2017). Motives such as relationship formation, self-expression, and relationship maintenance can drive people to use the social media (Karapanos, Teixeira, & Gouveia, 2016).
How Personality Factors Affect ‘How’ and ‘Why’ People Use Social Media
Personality traits affect how and why people use the social media. For instance, the extroverts are generally more sociable, talkative, active, and communicative (Carver & Scheier, 2017). Therefore, the extroverts tend to use social media platforms more due to their high needs of being social and communicating with other people. These individuals also tend to use the social media in order to supplement relationships that had been established earlier using face-to-face relationships. On the contrary, introverts have limited use of social media, since they often feel they need to control social interactions (Amichai-Hamburger, Gazit, Bar-Ilan, Perez, Aharony, Bronstein, & Dyne, 2016). However, introverts may use the social media sites to compensate for the social interactions that are lacking in their real lives. Besides, people lower on conscientiousness tend to use social media more than those higher on conscientiousness, since they do not care much about how much people know about their lives. Contrary, those higher on conscientiousness are more cautious and diligent, hence, mind about how much of their lives are exposed (Carver & Scheier, 2017). Agreeable people also use social media more and release a lot of information about their personal lives (Amichai-Hamburger et al., 2016). Their personality also allows them to use social media without much thought about the risks of using these platforms.
A person with a motive of self-expression will most likely use social media by posting a status update to the public that explains what they like, what they dislike, and other different aspects of their lives. In contrast, a person who has a motive of maintaining a relationship will use the social media by sending text messages and photos to specific people with whom they wish to maintain relationships (Karapanos et al., 2016). Similarly, those with motives to form relationships will be friendlier, open to interactions, and, in most instances, write text messages to particular individuals.
It is evident that communication is an important aspect of every person’s life. The internet through social media sites has effectively served this purpose for several years and still continues to do so. Different personality aspects such as personality traits and motives have led to the use of these platforms. The traits and motives determine why and how a person uses the social media. For instance, extroverts are likely to use social media more compared to introverts due to their sociable nature. Similarly, persons with a motive of expressing themselves will post a status update on social media sites expressing what they feel or what they like or dislike.
Amichai-Hamburger, Y., Gazit, T., Bar-Ilan, J., Perez, O., Aharony, N., Bronstein, J., & Dyne, T. S. (2016). Psychological factors behind the lack of participation in online discussions. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 268-277.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2017). Perspectives on personality (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Karapanos, E., Teixeira, P., & Gouveia, R. (2016). Need fulfillment and experiences on social media: A case on Facebook and WhatsApp. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 888-897.