Introduction: Internet and social networking use has increased sharply among university students following the Covid-19 pandemic and general lockdown. Dark Triad personality traits are significant predictors of addiction to social networking usage. This study employs a personality-coping outcome framework to examine the addictive effects of the dark side of personality traits on social networking. It also attempts to analyse the mediating effect of coping strategies on social networking addiction among university students.
Methods: Data was collected using a self-report questionnaire which was distributed to 437 randomly selected undergraduate engineering students from three constituent colleges under Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in Madhya Pradesh, India. A 27-item short DT scale of Jones and Paulhus was used for collecting the dark triad data. For coping strategies, Carver’s coping strategies scale was used and addiction to social networking was measured using Bergen’s 6-item scale. SPSS and AMOS were used for statistical analysis. A mediation analysis of the coping strategy was also carried out.
Results: The results confirm the positive and significant direct effects of Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy on social networking addiction among youth. The results further confirm the small but significant mediating effects of the coping strategy on social networking addiction.
Conclusion: The personality-coping-outcome framework could predict the associations between dark personality traits and social networking addiction among university students. Narcissism showed the most pronounced effect on social networking addiction as narcissistic students keep posting on social networking sites and keep checking the increasing impressions by way of likes and shares.
Keywords: social networking addiction, Dark Personality traits, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy.