Research Publication Title

Exploring Potential Psychosocial Subgroup Differences in the Links Between Binge-watching and Loneliness

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Whitney Heppner

Keywords

Binge-watching, loneliness, belong, age, relationship, single, students, health, subgroup

Abstract

A relatively new form of technology use is the popular notion of “binge-watching” and this behavior may be increasing due to increasing availability and access (Flayelle et al., 2018). Binge-watching behavior is linked to a number of negative outcomes, particularly physical health indicators such as symptoms comparable to substance dependence, (Horvath, 2004; Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). Moreover, TV viewing more generally has been linked to potential health issues due to a sedentary and unhealthy life such as reduced muscle strength (Reid et al., 2017) and increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Grøntved & Hu, 2011). In addition, previous research has established links between negative social indicators such as depression and loneliness and TV viewing behaviors (Wheeler, 2017). Along these same lines, in previous Georgia College research, self-reported frequency of binge-watching was negatively correlated with several health behaviours, and also positively correlated with poor psychological health (Simmons et al., 2019). The aim of the current study was to further explore the links between binge-watching behavior and an important indicator of social wellness--loneliness.The hypothesis made was that positive correlations between binge-watching and loneliness would be more robust among certain subgroups of college students. Specifically, it was predicted that links would be stronger among: (1) freshmen, relative to upperclassmen; (2) single students, relative to students in a relationship; and (3) students high in the need to belong, determined by a self survey on the need to belong scale (Leary et al., 2006), relative to students low in the need to belong. Subgroups analysis performed on an existing dataset revealed that our hypotheses were supported for all but the “freshmen” hypothesis. The results of this study shed light on psychosocial and demographic factors that may represent particular vulnerabilities to the deleterious social correlates of binge-watching.

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Exploring Potential Psychosocial Subgroup Differences in the Links Between Binge-watching and Loneliness

A relatively new form of technology use is the popular notion of “binge-watching” and this behavior may be increasing due to increasing availability and access (Flayelle et al., 2018). Binge-watching behavior is linked to a number of negative outcomes, particularly physical health indicators such as symptoms comparable to substance dependence, (Horvath, 2004; Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). Moreover, TV viewing more generally has been linked to potential health issues due to a sedentary and unhealthy life such as reduced muscle strength (Reid et al., 2017) and increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Grøntved & Hu, 2011). In addition, previous research has established links between negative social indicators such as depression and loneliness and TV viewing behaviors (Wheeler, 2017). Along these same lines, in previous Georgia College research, self-reported frequency of binge-watching was negatively correlated with several health behaviours, and also positively correlated with poor psychological health (Simmons et al., 2019). The aim of the current study was to further explore the links between binge-watching behavior and an important indicator of social wellness--loneliness.The hypothesis made was that positive correlations between binge-watching and loneliness would be more robust among certain subgroups of college students. Specifically, it was predicted that links would be stronger among: (1) freshmen, relative to upperclassmen; (2) single students, relative to students in a relationship; and (3) students high in the need to belong, determined by a self survey on the need to belong scale (Leary et al., 2006), relative to students low in the need to belong. Subgroups analysis performed on an existing dataset revealed that our hypotheses were supported for all but the “freshmen” hypothesis. The results of this study shed light on psychosocial and demographic factors that may represent particular vulnerabilities to the deleterious social correlates of binge-watching.

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