A psychosocial approach to understanding young Australians' mobile phone behaviour
Walsh, Shari Poldi (2009) A psychosocial approach to understanding young Australians' mobile phone behaviour. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.
This thesis by publication contributes to our knowledge of psychological factors underlying a modern day phenomenon, young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Specifically, the thesis reports a PhD program of research which adopted a social psychological approach to explore mobile phone behaviour among young Australians aged between 15 and 24 years. A particular focus of the research program was to explore both the cognitive and behavioural aspects of young people’s mobile phone behaviour which for the purposes of this thesis is defined as mobile phone involvement. The research program comprised three separate stages which were developmental in nature, in that, the findings of each stage of the research program informed the next. The overarching goal of the program of research was to improve our understanding of the psychosocial factors influencing young people’s mobile phone behaviour. To achieve this overall goal, there were a number of aims to the research program which reflect the developmental nature of this thesis. Given the limited research into the mobile phone behaviour in Australia, the first two aims of the research program were to explore patterns of mobile phone behaviour among Australian youth and explore the social psychological factors relating to their mobile phone behaviour. Following this exploration, the research program sought to develop a measure which captures the cognitive and behavioural aspects of mobile phone behaviour. Finally, the research program aimed to examine and differentiate the psychosocial predictors of young people’s frequency of mobile phone use and their level of involvement with their mobile phone. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies were used throughout the program of research. Five papers prepared during the three stages of the research program form the bulk of this thesis. The first stage of the research program was a qualitative investigation of young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Thirty-two young Australians participated in a series of focus groups in which they discussed their mobile phone behaviour. Thematic data analysis explored patterns of mobile phone behaviour among young people, developed an understanding of psychological factors influencing their use of mobile phones, and identified that symptoms of addiction were emerging in young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Two papers (Papers 1 and 2) emanated from this first stage of the research program. Paper 1 explored patterns of mobile phone behaviour and revealed that mobile phones were perceived as being highly beneficial to young people’s lives, with the ability to remain in constant contact with others being particularly valued. The paper also identified that symptoms of behavioural addiction including withdrawal, cognitive and behavioural salience, and loss of control, emerged in participants’ descriptions of their mobile phone behaviour. Paper 2 explored how young people’s need to belong and their social identity (two constructs previously unexplored in the context of mobile phone behaviour) related to their mobile phone behaviour. It was revealed that young people use their mobile phones to facilitate social attachments. Additionally, friends and peers influenced young people’s mobile phone behaviour; for example, their choice of mobile phone carrier and their most frequent type of mobile phone use. These papers laid the foundation for the further investigation of addictive patterns of behaviour and the role of social psychological factors on young people’s mobile behaviour throughout the research program. Stage 2 of the research program focussed on developing a new parsimonious measure of mobile phone behaviour, the Mobile Phone Involvement Questionnaire (MPIQ), which captured the cognitive and behavioural aspects of mobile phone use. Additionally, the stage included a preliminary exploration of factors influencing young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Participants (N = 946) completed a questionnaire which included a pool of items assessing symptoms of behavioural addiction, the uses and gratifications relating to mobile phone use, and self-identity and validation from others in the context of mobile phone behaviour. Two papers (Papers 3 & 4) emanated from the second stage of the research program. Paper 3 provided an important link between the qualitative and quantitative components of the research program. Qualitative data from Stage 1 indicated the reasons young people use their mobile phones and identified addictive characteristics present in young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Results of the quantitative study conducted in Stage 2 of the research program revealed the uses and gratifications relating to young people’s mobile phone behaviour and the effect of these gratifications on young people’s frequency of mobile phone use and three indicators of addiction, withdrawal, salience, and loss of control. Three major uses and gratifications: self (such as feeling good or as a fashion item), social (such as contacting friends), and security (such as use in an emergency) were found to underlie much of young people’s mobile phone behaviour. Self and social gratifications predicted young people’s frequency of mobile phone use and the three indicators of addiction but security gratifications did not. These results provided an important foundation for the inclusion of more specific psychosocial predictors in the later stages of the research program. Paper 4 reported the development of the mobile phone involvement questionnaire and a preliminary exploration of the effect of self-identity and validation from others on young people’s mobile phone behaviour. The MPIQ assessed a unitary construct and was a reliable measure amongst this cohort. Results found that self-identity influenced the frequency of young people’s use whereas self-identity and validation from others influenced their level of mobile phone involvement. These findings provided an important indication that, in addition to self factors, other people have a strong influence on young people’s involvement with their mobile phone and that mobile phone involvement is conceptually different to frequency of mobile phone use. Stage 3 of the research program empirically examined the psychosocial predictors of young people’s mobile behaviour and one paper, Paper 5, emanated from this stage. Young people (N = 292) from throughout Australia completed an online survey assessing the role of self-identity, ingroup norm, the need to belong, and self-esteem on their frequency of mobile phone use and their mobile phone involvement. Self-identity was the only psychosocial predictor of young people’s frequency of mobile phone use. In contrast, self-identity, ingroup norm, and need to belong all influenced young people’s level of involvement with their mobile phone. Additionally, the effect of self-esteem on young people’s mobile phone involvement was mediated by their need to belong. These results indicate that young people who perceive their mobile phone to be an integral part of their self-identity, who perceive that mobile phone is common amongst friends and peers, and who have a strong need for attachment to others, in some cases driven by a desire to enhance their self-esteem, are most likely to become highly involved with their mobile phones. Overall, this PhD program of research has provided an important contribution to our understanding of young Australians’ mobile phone behaviour. Results of the program have broadened our knowledge of factors influencing mobile phone behaviour beyond the approaches used in previous research. The use of various social psychological theories combined with a behavioural addiction framework provided a novel examination of young people’s mobile behaviour. In particular, the development of a new measure of mobile phone behaviour in the research program facilitated the differentiation of the psychosocial factors influencing frequency of young people’s mobile phone behaviour and their level of involvement with their mobile phone. Results of the research program indicate the important role that mobile phone behaviour plays in young people’s social development and also signals the characteristics of those people who may become highly involved with their mobile phone. Future research could build on this thesis by exploring whether mobile phones are affecting traditional social psychological processes and whether the results in this research program are generalisable to other cohorts and other communication technologies.
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|Item Type:||QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)|
|Supervisor:||White, Katherine & Young, Ross|
|Keywords:||mobile phone, Australia, youth, social psychology, self-identity, social identity, need to belong, self-esteem, addiction, behaviour|
|Divisions:||Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
|Institution:||Queensland University of Technology|
|Deposited On:||19 Jan 2010 03:02|
|Last Modified:||28 Oct 2011 19:54|
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