TitleAssociations between social media use, personality structure, and development of depression
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsMerrill, RA, Cao, C, Primack, BA
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders Reports
Date Published12/2022


  • Neuroticism was associated with higher risk of developing depression in 6 months.
  • Agreeableness was associated with lower risk of developing depression in 6 months.
  • Social media was associated with developing depression for all personality traits.
  • Interventions should target those with high neuroticism and low agreeableness.
  • Interventions should target reducing social media regardless of personality type.



While longitudinal studies demonstrate associations between social media use and development of depression, it is not clear whether these associations differ among people with various personality characteristics.


Data were obtained from a national sample of 978 individuals ages 18-30. Measures used included the Patient Health Questionnaire assessing depression, the 10-item Big Five Inventory assessing personality, and self-reported use of the top 10 social media platforms. Logistic regression determined associations between each personality characteristic (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), social media use, and development of depression over 6 months.


In multivariable analyses that adjusted for all covariates, compared to people with low agreeableness, those with high agreeableness had 49% lower odds for developing depression (OR=0.51, 95% CI=0.33, 0.80). Compared to people with low neuroticism, those with high neuroticism had more than double the odds for developing depression (OR=2.46, 95% CI=1.57, 3.87). For each personality characteristic, increased social media use was significantly associated with developing depression. Interaction terms showed that associations between social media use and developing depression did not vary according to any of the personality characteristics.


Because we assessed young adults ages 18-30, inferences cannot be made to other age groups.


The fact that agreeableness and neuroticism were associated with different risks for developing depression may help practitioners target high-risk populations. Because social media use was strongly associated with development of depression for all personality characteristics, it may be useful for interventions to target reduction of social media use overall regardless of personality type.

Short TitleJournal of Affective Disorders Reports