How to Facilitate Face-to-Face Relationships for Introverts

#Connected: Facebook May for
Alexander Spradlin and Carrie Cuttler
Washington State University
John P. Bunce
University of California, Merced
L. Mark Carrier
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Many fear that social networking sites (SNSs) are disconnecting people from meaningful face-to-face
relationships. Nevertheless, previous research suggests that SNS use is related to increased face-to-face
communication. The present study was conducted to determine whether personality traits and attachment
styles moderate this relationship. Students (n 855) completed an online survey that included measures
of Facebook use, time spent engaging in face-to-face communication, personality traits, and attachment
styles. The results revealed that Facebook use was associated with
and that this relationship was moderated by extraversion. Specifically, the relationship between Facebook
use and face-to-face communication was significant for individuals with low to moderate levels of
extraversion (i.e., introverts) only. As extraversion increased, the magnitude of the relationship between
Facebook use and face-to-face time decreased. No other personality traits or attachment styles significantly moderated the relationship between Facebook use and face-to-face communication. Facebook (and
potentially SNSs more generally) may be especially beneficial for introverts by allowing them to build
trust and rapport in a less threatening social environment that, in turn, makes them more comfortable
engaging in face-to-face communication. However, research is needed to understand the direction and
mechanisms underlying this relationship. Nevertheless, the present study provides novel insights into the
beneficial role that Facebook may play in connecting people in the real world.
Public Policy Relevance Statement
In young adults, more Facebook use was associated with increased time spent engaging in face-toface communication, and moderation analyses revealed that this association was only present in
people with low to moderate levels of extraversion. No other personality traits or attachment styles
moderated the association. These results suggest that Facebook use may be especially beneficial for
for introverts.
Keywords: Facebook, personality, attachment, face-to-face communication, interpersonal relationships
Many people fear that technology and social networking sites
(SNSs), such as Facebook, are disconnecting people from and relationships (Konrath,
OBrien, & Hsing, 2011; Small & Vorgan, 2008). Previous research, however, indicates that the use of various forms of technology is related to increased face-to-face communication (Carrier,
Spradlin, Bunce, & Rosen, 2015; Jin & Park, 2010), and that there
is a trivial relationship between technology use and decreased
interpersonal connectedness (Carrier et al., 2015; Hampton, Goulet, Her, & Rainie, 2009; Jin & Park, 2010). For example, time
spent being behind the screen (e.g., emailing, visiting web pages)
was not associated with affective and cognitive empathy in males
and affective empathy in females, and it had only a very small
negative association with affective empathy in females (Carrier et
al., 2015). Rather, the use of these types of technology is associated with increased time spent in face-to-face communication
(Carrier et al., 2015; Jin & Park, 2010). This is particularly true for
SNSs; evidence suggests that individuals use such sites to complement, rather than replace, face-to-face interactions (see Anderson, Fagan, Woodnutt, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2012 for review).
There are several potential individual differences that could
influence the relationship between the use of SNSs and face-toface communication. Amichai-Hamburger (2002) hypothesized
that personality is a major motivating factor behind Internet use,
and several correlational studies have provided evidence that there
are relationships between various personality traits and Facebook
This article was published Online First August 17, 2017.
Alexander Spradlin and Carrie Cuttler, Department of Psychology,
Washington State University; John P. Bunce, Department of Psychological
Sciences, University of California, Merced; L. Mark Carrier, Department
of Psychology, California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alexander Spradlin, Department of Psychology, Washington State University,
P.O. Box 644820, Johnson Tower 233, Pullman, WA 99164-4820. E-mail:
[email protected]
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture 2017 American Psychological Association
2019, Vol. 8, No. 1, 34 40 2160-4134/19/$12.00

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