Recently, empirical research has shown dark personality traits (i.e., Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, sadism, spitefulness) to be associated with problematic and addictive online behaviors. However, their direct relationships with problematic smartphone use (PSU) have yet to be examined. The present study investigated the direct and indirect associations of dark personality traits with PSU via fearful and dismissing attachment styles among 546 participants. Results indicated that men had higher scores on measures assessing dark personality traits and women had higher PSU. Narcissism and spitefulness were directly associated with PSU in the total sample, men, and women. Machiavellianism was indirectly associated with PSU via fearful attachment among men and sadism was directly and indirectly associated with PSU via fearful attachment among women. Findings suggest that dark personality traits may play a contributory role in higher PSU (with different traits having different effects among men and women), and that attachment styles partially explain the relationship between dark traits and PSU.
Despite its facilitating uses, smartphone use can be problematic and harmful for a minority of individuals (Billieux, 2012; Billieux, Maurage, Lopez-Fernandez, Kuss, & Griffiths, 2015). Problematic smartphone use (PSU) has been defined as the excessive and increasingly uncontrolled use of smartphones that cause daily-life disturbance (Kwon, Kim, Cho, & Yang, 2013). Empirical research has indicated that PSU can lead to serious psychological and physical impairments for individuals, including elevated depression, anxiety, stress, lower sleep quality, and decreased physical activity (Demirci, Akgönül, & Akpinar, 2015; Haug et al., 2015; Xie, Dong, & Wang, 2018). It is therefore of critical importance that the predictors of PSU should be investigated in helping develop intervention and prevention strategies. According to the pathway model of problematic mobile phone use (Billieux et al., 2015), personality traits and adult attachment are among the core psychological elements that can help explain individuals’ problematic and addictive use of mobile phones. Recent studies suggest that dark personality traits are positively associated with problematic use of specific and nonspecific online activities (e.g., Sindermann, Sariyska, Lachmann, Brand, & Montag, 2018). However, the associations between such traits and PSU have yet to be empirically examined. Individuals with dark personality traits are more likely to engage in PSU because it co-occurs with the other problematic online behaviors (Salehan & Negahban, 2013).