Introverts spend a lot of time on the Internet talking to others, according to new research at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences.
Researchers tracked the Internet use of 69 college students over two months and also claimed to have found a link between certain types of Internet use and addictive behavior.
“About 5 to 10 percent of all Internet users appear to show web dependency, and brain imaging studies show that compulsive Internet use may induce changes in some brain reward pathways that are similar to that seen in drug addiction,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.
However, the current study did not compare its subjects to those with drug addiction, nor did it use any brain imaging.
For the current study, students were given a 20-question survey called the Internet-Related Problem Scale (IRPS). The IRPS was developed to identify characteristics of addiction — introversion, withdrawal, craving, tolerance and negative life consequences — on a scale of 0 to 200. The survey also captures escapism, ratings of loss of control and reduced time on daily activities.
The researchers also kept track of the campus Internet use of participating students over two months. They found that the range of IRPS scores among participating students over the two-month period ranged from 30 to 134 on the 200-point scale. The average score was 75.
The total IRPS scores exhibited the highest correlations with gaming, chatting and browsing, and the lowest with email and social networking.
Classic addiction behaviors correlated with specific Internet activities. Introversion, for example, was closely tied to gaming and chatting; craving to gaming, chatting and file downloading; and loss of control to gaming.
Students who scored high on the introversion scale spent 25 percent more time on instant messaging than those who scored low on the scale. Students who reported increased craving on the IRPS downloaded 60 percent more content than those who scored low.
Furthermore, students who scored high on the IRPS scale spent about 10 percent of their Internet time on gaming, compared to 5 percent for the group that scored low.
The researchers believe that results from this study and others may shed light on how the Internet may affect behavioral and emotional wellness, and the need to distinguish normal versus problematic usage in different age groups.