Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kimberley A. Babb

Keywords

Applied sciences, Psychology, Adjustment, Attachment, Coping, Facebook, Internet use, Social networks

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The Internet has become integrated into the daily lives of adolescents and young adults, and researchers have begun to investigate the predictors, correlates, and consequences of Internet use. Research has suggested that individuals with social strengths and individuals with social weaknesses both may benefit from using the Internet to cope. The purpose of this study was to explore the relations among attachment, offline coping, online coping, and adjustment, as well as to evaluate whether the rich-get-richer or social compensation hypotheses of Internet use explained these relations. Undergraduate students aged 17 to 25 years ( N = 296) completed online measures of their Internet and Facebook use, attachment anxiety and avoidance, offline coping, online coping through Facebook, well-being, and distress. Results showed that the relation between higher levels of attachment anxiety and greater distress was partially mediated by online coping. Attachment avoidance was not related to online coping, but the relation between higher levels of attachment avoidance and decreased well-being was partially mediated by less frequent use of adaptive offline coping strategies. An alternative model suggested a possible reciprocal path indicating that individuals higher in both distress and well-being reported greater frequency of online coping. Further analyses of online coping indicated that most subtypes were related to more intense usage of Facebook, greater attachment anxiety and avoidance, greater use of avoidant coping strategies offline, greater distress, and reduced well-being. These results suggested that the relations among attachment, offline coping, online coping, and psychosocial adjustment are more complex than can be explained by either the rich-get-richer or social compensation hypotheses. Implications of these findings for the development of pathological Internet use also are outlined.

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