Carried out by psychologists from the University of Derby and Nottingham Trent University, the online study surveyed 640 smartphone users aged 13-69 to look at a possible link between smartphone use and certain personality traits.
The team found that those who were less emotionally stable and resilient were more likely have a higher level of smartphone use, possibly as a form of therapy.
"This is because people may be experiencing problems in their lives such as stress, anxiety, depression, family problems, so in that state they are emotionally unstable, meaning they may seek respite in very excessive smartphone use. This is worrying," said Dr. Zaheer Hussain, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby.
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In addition, those with anxiety also appeared to be more addicted to their phone. Previous research has already suggested that both heavy and moderate smartphone use can lead to users feeling significantly more anxious over time, with the new study also suggesting that as levels of anxiety increase, so does problematic smartphone use.
"With 4.23 billion smartphones being used around the world, smartphone use has become a necessity in the lives of many individuals," said Dr. Hussain. "Problematic smartphone use is more complex than previously thought and our research has highlighted the interplay of various psychological factors in the study of smartphone use."
The responses also showed that the most popular smartphone applications among the participants were social networking applications (used by 49.9%), followed by instant messaging applications (35.2%), and then music applications (19.1%).
People who are "closed off" or less open with their emotions are also more likely to have problems with smartphone use according to the findings, with Dr. Hussain, commenting that, "They may be engaging in passive social network use, this is where you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, browsing other peoples' comments, pictures and posts, and not posting anything of your own and not engaging in discussion with others, so there is no real positive social interaction while social networking."
"While it can be argued that people are no more addicted to their smartphones than alcoholics are addicted to bottles, our research does show that some applications such as the use of social networking sites, do appear to be problematic for a small minority of individuals," added Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University.