Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 33 Number 4 2016 pp. 1087-1116

Problematic Use of Social Networking Sites: Antecedents and Consequence from a Dual-System Theory Perspective

Turel, Ofir and Qahri-Saremi, Hamed


Problematic use of social networking sites (SNS) and its adverse consequences have become prevalent, yet little is known about the conceptualization and etiology of problematic use of SNS. This study draws on dual-system theory (DST), borrowed from cognitive neuroscience (also known as reflective-impulsive theory of the mind and fast and slow thinking) to investigate what drives this phenomenon. The statistical analyses of time-lagged data collected from 341 Facebook users implicate an imbalance between two systems in the human mind, involving strong cognitive-emotional preoccupation with using the SNS (System 1, impulsive) and weak cognitive-behavioral control over using the SNS (System 2, reflective), as the driver of problematic SNS use behaviors. Problematic use of SNS, in turn, diminishes users’ academic performance. This study contributes to research on the dark side of information systems (IS) use by conceptualizing problematic use and explaining its drivers and consequences. It demonstrates that the dual-system theory is an appropriate theoretical perspective for explaining problematic IS use, superior to planned-behavior–based models. It also explains some of the precursors of the dual system factors and offers practical implications to information technology artifact designers and users.

Key words and phrases: cognitive nueroscience, dark side of IS use, dual-process theory, dual-system theory, Facebook, IS users, problematic IT use, self-esteem, social networking sites, stimulus properties