People who are addicted to their phones might be narcissists: study

Do you feel ‘lost’ when you leave your phone at home? You may have narcissistic personality traits, study finds

  • People who can’t be without their phones scored higher on a scale of narcissism
  • These narcissists also tended to have signs of social media addiction 
  • READ MORE: People see their smartphones as an extension of their being

People with high levels of narcissistic traits are more likely to be addicted to their phones, according to a new study.

The addiction, dubbed ‘nomophobia’, a mashup of ‘no mobile phone phobia’, is when people feel like they’ve lost a piece of themselves when they are without their cell.

Researchers at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania found narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self importance, which can show up as a need for admiration and a sense of entitlement – a lot of which can be gained through social media interactions, such as ‘likes’ on their posts.

Among 559 post-secondary school and university students between the ages of 18 and 45, those who scored higher on a scale of narcissistic traits were more likely to experience significant levels of nomophobia.

People with high levels of narcissistic traits are more likely to be addicted to their phones, according to a new study

These individuals also showed greater signs of stress, and tended to exhibit stronger signs of social media addiction. 

It seems, then, that nomophobia, narcissism, stress, and social media addiction all influence each other, they found.

Specifically, their evidence suggests that social media addiction and nomophobia explain the connection between narcissism and stress levels.

The results appeared in The Journal of Psychology

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Narcissistic personality disorder is different from the informal term ‘narcissism.’

People with narcissistic personality disorder can have trouble forming and maintaining lasting relationships, as people may not enjoy their company and they may not find relationships fulfilling. 

Clinical symptoms of narcissism include an expectation to be recognized as superior, preoccupations with fantasies of power, an inflated sense of self-importance, an unwillingness to consider the needs and feelings of others, envy of others, and arrogance.

This overblown sense of self can be coupled with a fragile ego, though, too:

Narcissists tend to feel easily slighted, become inpatient when they don’t receive special recognition, experience problems adapting to stress or change, feel depressed when they fall short of perfection, and have secret feelings of insecurity or fears of being exposed as a failure.

Researchers recruited their participants – 394 Romanian post-secondary school students and 165 university students – via announcements in class.

Volunteers were asked to complete an online survey, including assessments measuring narcissism, stress, symptoms of social media addiction, and nomophobia.

A question about nomophobia, for example: ‘I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone’

And one about social media addiction: ‘How often during the last year have you used social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies?’ 

Students who scored higher on the scale of narcissism also scored higher on ratings of social media addiction and nomophobia. And those who had more severe social media addiction and greater nomophobia self-reported higher levels of stress.

‘The most important finding of the present study is related to the mediating roles of social media addiction and nomophobia on the link between narcissism and stress,’ the study authors wrote. 

They conducted a statistical analysis that revealed the likely relationship among all these factors:

‘As hypothesized, individuals high in narcissism might be more prone to develop these behavioral addictions, which would further lead to increased stress levels,’ they wrote.

Some limitations of the study include the self-reported answers to questions, as well as the fact that most of the volunteers were young. The study was also not set up to untangle cause and effect.

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