Smartphone Use Disorder and Internet Use Disorder: What Association with the Big Five Model and the I-PACE Model?

Smartphone Use Disorder and Internet Use Disorder: What Association with the Big Five Model and the I-PACE Model?

It is estimated that 2.71 billion people worldwide use smartphones and that the spread of this means of communication has become considerable since the release of the first iPhone on the market in January 2007 (Montag & Diefenbach, 2018).


Although very often its use is considered in a negative way and considered harmful for the individual, it is good to recognize the potential of this tool in terms of ease of communication and availability of information, as well as being an important aid in the workplace; however, it is emphasized that its use becomes pathological when excessive (Billieux et al., 2015). In such cases it can reduce the individual’s productivity, increase inattention, as well as detach the individual from reality and predispose him to a high risk of developing depressive symptoms and negative affectivity (Elhai et al., 2016).

Several studies (Kwon et al., 2013; Lackmann et al., 2019) have in fact explored the relationships between smartphone and internet use disorder and the personality traits theorized by the Big Five Model of Personality and found that both they are associated with high levels of neuroticism, low levels of agreeableness and low levels of conscientiousness, but differences have also been found between the two disorders. Lower levels of extraversion were associated with higher internet use, while no significant associations were found with smartphone use disorder. On the other hand, low mental openness was significantly associated with high levels of smartphone use disorder, but no significant associations were found with internet use disorder.

Starting from this, the present study (Peterka-Bonetta et al., 2019) wants to replicate these results, using different evaluation tools from those used in previous research, as well as considering the relationship with two aspects taken from the I-PACE model , that is the high impulsiveness and the high social anxiety.

773 subjects were subjected to the compilation of the short version of the TSDI by Olaru and collaborators (2015), in order to obtain a score for each personality dimension (Open-mindedness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), to the short version of the Internet Addiction Test (Pawlikowski et al., 2013) to evaluate internet use disorder, to Smartphone Addiction Inventory (Lin YH et al., 2014) to measure smartphone use disorder, to short version of Barratt Impulsiveness Scale 15 ( Spinella, 2007) to evaluate impulsivity and to The Interaction Anxiousness Scale (Leary, 1983) to detect the presence of social anxiety.

The results confirmed the data collected by previous researches (Kwon et al., 2013; Lackmann et al., 2019), demonstrating how they can be considered valid and independent of the type of evaluation tool used. Furthermore, it was highlighted that both internet use disorder and smartphone use disorder are characterized by significant positive associations with high impulsivity and high social anxiety, in line with the evidence that high impulsivity is generally significantly associated with behavioral addictions and social anxiety leads to more frequent use of the internet (Peterka-Bonetta et al., 2019).

In conclusion, we can say that the Internet and smartphones have revolutionized our life in every aspect, changing habits and ways of relating to others, involving positive and negative aspects, which must be properly investigated, taking into account individual differences and specific use that is made of these tools.