Ulm / Bonn - Scientists around the Ulm molecular psychologist Christian Montag see connection between the ability to compassion - empathy - and problematic internet use. They investigated whether personality traits or cultural background favor the tendency to internet addiction. They surveyed over 600 students in Germany and China.
More and more people are neglecting work and private life in order to be active in social networks on the internet or to play online. Why some people, especially young people, may be more susceptible to this dependence on the Internet and why the phenomenon seems to occur more frequently in Asian countries has not yet been fully clarified, according to the working group.
Among other things, the scientists surveyed how well the Students can assess the mood of their fellow human beings and predict their reactions. In the Internet addiction questionnaire, the participants provided information on whether they were hiding, for example, how long they had been on the Internet and what they had accessed online. According to the researchers, the students' self-reports show clear connection between lack of empathy and internet addiction.
“The connection occurs regardless of age, culture and gender. Although the samples differ significantly in terms of age and gender distribution, the effect is consistently present even after the initial differences have been corrected, ”explains Martin Melchers, research assistant in the department of differential and biological psychology at the University of Bonn.
This is however, "chicken and egg problem", so Montag. The current study could not give final answer to the question of whether the excessive use of online media reduces the ability to empathize or, conversely, whether lack of compassion leads to Internet addiction. However, it provides indications that personality traits such as empathy could be the mainspring for internet addiction.