Are you Keeping your Facebook Passions and Habit under Control? A dual-system Perspective on Facebook Addiction-like Symptoms

Nikolaos Mylonopoulos and Vasilis Theoharakis
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 25, Number 2, 2021, pp. 181-203.


After many years of techno-enthusiasm, public discourse has turned to the dark side of technology and notably the dysfunctional consequences (e.g., addiction-like symptoms) of excessive social media use. Recent research in this area draws on dual-system theory and demonstrates that while habit predicts use, it does not directly predict addiction-like symptoms. This is not surprising, since habit lacks valence and its measurement does not discriminate between desirable and undesirable use. To clarify the antecedents of addiction-like symptoms, this paper extends prior research by drawing on the dualistic theory of passions and argues that habit is a manifestation of harmonious and obsessive passions that are anchored in the user’s identity. By applying structural equation modeling on survey responses from 225 U.S.-based users, we first replicate and confirm the main findings of prior studies and then proceed to show that harmonious and obsessive passion drive Facebook habit and use. Moreover, obsessive passion emerges as the exclusive driver of addiction-like Facebook symptoms while the restraining effect of self-control is mediated by the two passions, as well as habit and use. The main finding is that the dual-system explaining Facebook addiction-like symptoms comprises of obsessive passion as the direct driving force and self-control as the indirect preventative restraining force. Our analysis contributes to the debate about mitigating the negative effects of social media and opens up new questions for further research.