A growing number of self-report measures aim to define interactions with social media in a pathological behavior framework, often using terminology focused on identifying those who are ‘addicted’ to engaging with others online. Specifically, measures of ‘social media addiction’ focus on motivations for online social information seeking, which could relate to motivations for offline social information seeking. However, it could be the case that these same measures could reveal a pattern of friend addiction in general. This study develops the Offline-Friend Addiction Questionnaire (O-FAQ) by re-wording items from highly cited pathological social media use scales to reflect “spending time with friends”. Our methodology for validation follows the current literature precedent in the development of social media ‘addiction’ scales. The O-FAQ had a three-factor solution in an exploratory sample of N = 807 and these factors were stable in a 4-week retest (r = .72 to .86) and was validated against personality traits, and risk-taking behavior, in conceptually plausible directions. Using the same polythetic classification techniques as pathological social media use studies, we were able to classify 69% of our sample as addicted to spending time with their friends. The discussion of our satirical research is a critical reflection on the role of measurement and human sociality in social media research. We question the extent to which connecting with others can be considered an ‘addiction’ and discuss issues concerning the validation of new ‘addiction’ measures without relevant medical constructs. Readers should approach our measure with a level of skepticism that should be afforded to current social media addiction measures.
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Although the Facebook Intensity Scale (Orosz et al., 2016) “aimed to create a scale which is relevant to general Facebook users, and which does not focus on the pathologic or addiction-related aspects of Facebook use” (p. 96), they do conclude that their scale factors of Persistence can “lead to obsessive passion and addiction towards Facebook” (p. 102) and Overuse “is related to the excessive use and addictive dimensions Facebook as previously assessed by Andreassen et al” (p. 102). With these factors in mind, we include the scale in our study as the measure highlights the same larger theoretical questions about social behavior as distinct to Facebook.
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Open practices statement
This study was preregistered and all materials we hold the copyright for, data and code are available on the OSF here: https://osf.io/9y2rh/
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A preprint of this work can be found on the psyarxiv at https://psyarxiv.com/7x85m
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We note that Dean Fido, Craig Harper and Heather Shaw are considered equal second authors. All other authors are arranged alphabetically.
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Satchell, L.P., Fido, D., Harper, C.A. et al. Development of an Offline-Friend Addiction Questionnaire (O-FAQ): Are most people really social addicts?. Behav Res 53, 1097–1106 (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-020-01462-9
- Social addiction
- Social information
- Social media addiction
- Social time