Do Social Media Addicts Make Riskier Decisions?
Could a possible overuse of social media mean that your decision making is impaired? Find out here.
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It's fairly well known that when our mental reserves are lower, we tend to make bad decisions, but might excessive social media usage have a similar impact? That was the question posed by a recent study from Michigan State University.
"Decision-making is often compromised in individuals with substance use disorders. They sometimes fail to learn from their mistakes and continue down a path of negative outcomes," the researchers explain. "But no one previously looked at this behavior as it relates to excessive social media users, so we investigated this possible parallel between excessive social media users and substance abusers. While we didn't test for the cause of poor decision-making, we tested for its correlation with problematic social media use."
The researchers asked a bunch of volunteers to complete a survey aimed to measure their psychological dependence on Facebook. How preoccupied were people by the site? Were they able to stop using it for a period of time? Did it have any impact on their work?
After completing the survey, each participant was then asked to complete the Iowa Gambling Task, which is a commonly-used exercise to measure our decision-making abilities. It requires users to identify specific outcome patterns in a deck of cards in order to select the best possible deck.
A Negative Impact
The data showed that those volunteers who were excessive users of social media performed worse in the decision-making task. Indeed, the trend was pretty clear. The less people used social media, the better they did on the task.
Interestingly, the results match patterns found in people with a range of substance abuse problems, who also exhibit poorer decision making as a result of their addiction.
"With so many people around the world using social media, it's critical for us to understand its use," the researchers explain. "I believe that social media has tremendous benefits for individuals, but there's also a dark side when people can't pull themselves away. We need to better understand this drive so we can determine if excessive social media use should be considered an addiction."
Published at DZone with permission of Adi Gaskell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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