Is Twitter more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol? According to researchers at Chicago University’s Booth Business School, the answer is probably yes.
The Guardian reports (via The Loop):
Tweeting or checking emails may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, according to researchers who tried to measure how well people could resist their desires.
They even claim that while sleep and sex may be stronger urges, people are more likely to give in to longings or cravings to use social and other media.
The study measured the willpower of 205 residents of Würtzburg, Germany between 18 and 85, measuring their desire to use Twitter, how strong their desire was, whether they resisted the desire, and whether it took priority of their other desires:
The participants were signalled seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days so they could message back whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes, what type it was, the strength (up to irresistible), whether it conflicted with other desires and whether they resisted or went along with it. There were 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes” reported.
Researchers also found that willpower decreased as the day progressed, and observed a nearly 70% rate of “self-control failure”. They also noted that resisting desire to work also achieved a high failure rate. In fact, they found that people were more likely to resist sexual urges, urges for tobacco, alcohol, and coffee, and even spending impulses than they were to resist the urge to tweet.
Pretty interesting results to be sure! Although I’m not all that surprised – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horribly addicted to Twitter! The results will soon be published in the Psychological Science academic journal.