Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 34 Number 2 2017 pp. 560-596

The Effect of Belongingness on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Use of Online Social Networks

James, Tabitha L, Lowry, Paul Benjamin, Wallace, Linda, and Warkentin, Merrill


Online social networks (OSNs) continue to have a transformative influence on how people socialize, partially because they help facilitate social contact that is crucial to fulfilling an innate need to belong. However, there is increasing evidence that some users suffer from OSN addiction, expressed as OSN obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Using the need-to-belong theory as our foundation, we seek a deeper understanding of the relationship between OSN belongingness and OSN OCD by examining the effects that OSN-specific uses and gratifications (U&Gs) and negative emotions have on it. We find that OSN belongingness is positively associated with use of the OSN to gratify needs for purposive value, self-discovery, maintaining interpersonal interconnectivity, social enhancement, and entertainment value. However, gratification of only the purposive value and social enhancement needs increases the likelihood of OSN OCD. Furthermore, we find that while OSN belongingness decreases the likelihood of OSN envy and anxiety, it slightly increases the likelihood of OSN fear of missing out; notably, all three of these negative emotions drive OSN OCD. Our findings indicate that healthy socialization use by well-adjusted individuals decreases OSN OCD risks, but those experiencing unstable emotional responses or unhealthy socialization on the OSN should avoid use.

Key words and phrases: Facebook, need-to-belong theory, obsessive-compulsive disorder, online addiction, online belongingness, online social networks, social network sites, uses and gratifications theory