An exploration of Facebook use: passion, pathology, and well-being

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University of New Brunswick


Facebook is an online platform that has captured the attention of millions of users around the world. Despite evidence of the association between Facebook use and positive psychosocial functioning (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2009), researchers have found that Facebook use is reaching pathological levels for some users (Andreassen, Torsheim, Brunborg, & Pallesen, 2012). This potential for pathology and negative outcomes may be best explained by an individual’s motivations for using the website (Ross, Orr, Sisic, Arsenault, Simmering, & Orr, 2009). Using the motivational theory known as the Dualistic Model of Passion (the DMP) (Vallerand et al., 2003), the present study aimed to explore whether a pattern of pathological Facebook use (PFU) mediated the relationship between a user’s passion for Facebook and well-being outcomes. According to the DMP, an activity that is “good” for one individual can be “bad” for another depending on one of two types of passion the individual can develop for the activity (Vallerand, 2012). People with an obsessive passion are said to experience an uncontrollable urge to partake in an activity that they find enjoyable. Alternatively, when a person takes part in an activity in a harmonious way, they freely choose to do so of their own volition. A sample of 437 participants recruited through online advertisements completed a digital questionnaire package. Results suggested that the more frequently a Facebook user reported engaging in Facebook behaviors per day, such as posting pictures and statuses, and reading other peoples’ Facebook walls, the higher their reported levels of PFU. An examination of gender suggested men and women did not significantly differ in their levels of PFU. As expected, obsessive passion predicted higher PFU scores. In addition, the relationship between both obsessive and harmonious passion and well-being outcomes was mediated by PFU. Unexpected findings for harmonious passion would suggest that the types of behaviors people are engaging in on Facebook may be more meaningful in predicting outcomes than a user’s motivations for using the platform. Implications for this and other findings will be discussed. Keywords: Facebook, behavioural addiction, passion, well-being.