Previous studies have reported on positive and negative psychological outcomes associated with the use of social networking sites (SNSs). Research efforts linking Facebook use with depression and low self-esteem have indicated that it might be the manner in which people engage with the site that makes its use problematic for some people. The aim of the current study was to test a theoretical model of problematic Facebook use, using adult attachment style as the predictor variable of interest.
A cross-sectional design was employed wherein adult Facebook users (n¿=¿717) completed measures of psychological distress, self-esteem, and adult attachment, in addition to measures of problematic Facebook use (i.e. social comparison, self-disclosures, impression management, & intrusive Facebook use). Data were analysed using hierarchical multiple regression and mediation analyses.
The results of this study indicated that attachment anxiety was predictive of all facets of problematic Facebook use, and that attachment avoidance was predictive of impression management, and social consequences of intrusive Facebook use. Further analyses confirmed the mediating influences of psychological distress and self-esteem on these relationships.
Users of Facebook with higher levels of attachment insecurity may be gravitating towards the site in order to fulfil their attachment needs. This tendency is likely to be particularly prevalent for those individuals with low self-esteem who are experiencing psychological distress.