Using Eye Tracking to Explore Facebook Use and Associations with Facebook Addiction, Mental Well-being, and Personality (2019)

Behav Sci (Basel). 2019 Feb 18;9(2). pii: E19. doi: 10.3390/bs9020019.

Hussain Z1, Simonovic B2, Stupple EJN3, Austin M4.


Social networking sites (SNSs) have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, and for all its communicative benefits, excessive SNS use has been associated with a range of negative health implications. In the present study, the authors use eye-tracking methodology to explore the relationship between individual differences in personality, mental well-being, SNS usage, and the focus of Facebook users’ visual attention. Participants (n = 69, mean age = 23.09, SD = 7.54) completed questionnaire measures for personality and to examine changes in depression, anxiety, stress, and self-esteem. They then engaged in a Facebook session while their eye movements and fixations were recorded. These fixations were coded as being directed to social and update areas of interest (AOI) of the Facebook interface. An exploratory analysis of personality factors revealed a negative correlation between openness to experience and inspection times for the updates AOI and an unexpected negative relationship between extraversion and inspection times for social AOI. There were correlations between changes in depression score and inspection of updated AOI, with reduced depression scores associated with increased inspection of updates. Finally, self-reported duration of participants’ typical Facebook sessions did not correlate with eye-tracking measures but were associated with increased Facebook addiction scores and greater increases in depression scores. These initial findings indicate that there are differences in the outcomes of interacting with Facebook which can vary based on Facebook addiction, personality variables, and the Facebook features that individuals interact with.

KEYWORDS: Facebook addiction; anxiety; depression; mental well-being; personality; stress

PMID: 30781632

DOI: 10.3390/bs9020019