Young adults, who use more social media, are significantly more likely to develop depression within six months, regardless of personality type, finds a new study. The findings, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, showed that the people with high agreeableness were 49 per cent less likely to become depressed than those with low agreeableness.
"Previous research has linked the development of depression with numerous factors," said the authors, including Chunhua Cao, an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Alabama.
"However, the literature has been lacking in studies that focus on how various personality characteristics may interact with social media use and depression. This new study addressed these important research questions, finding strong and linear associations of depression across all personality traits," they added.
The team also found that those with high neuroticism were twice as likely to develop depression than those with low neuroticism when using more than 300 minutes of social media per day.
For the study, the team involved a sample of more than 1,000 US adults between the ages of 18 to 30.
Depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire. Social media was measured by asking participants how much daily time was spent using popular social media platforms.
Meanwhile, personality was measured using the Big Five Inventory, which assessed openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
The authors suggest that problematic social comparison can enhance negative feelings about oneself and others, which could explain how the risk of depression increases with increased social media use.
Engaging primarily in negative content can also enhance these feelings. And lastly, engaging in more social media reduces opportunities for in-person interactions and activities outside the home.