Why We Cannot Resist Our Smartphones : Investigating Compulsive Use of Mobile SNS from a Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement Perspective

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-200
Journal / PublicationJournal of the Association of Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


Compulsive smartphone use has attracted extensive social attention because of serious and even fatal outcomes associated with it. However, there has been little theory-driven research systematically investigating the mechanism of compulsive behavior in smartphone use. Although a significant line of literature exists in the area of personal-computer based technology addiction, the mechanism underpinning compulsive smartphone use differs significantly because the unique and specific characteristics of smartphones have given rise to a fundamentally different usage context with new usage behavioral patterns. In order to comprehensively theorize this issue, we first defined compulsive behavior in smartphone use, focusing on mobile social networking services (SNSs) in particular, and then extended the stimulus-response-reinforcement framework to investigate the theoretical network of compulsive use of mobile SNSs. We used online survey data from 368 active mobile SNS users in China to empirically test and validate the proposed model and hypotheses. Our results indicate that both positive and negative reinforcements, as well as the compensatory component, invoke the feeling of urge that leads to compulsive mobile SNS use. The positive effects of interactivity as an incentive stimulus on those reinforcements and compulsive mobile SNS use were also found to be significant.

Research Area(s)

  • Compensation Mechanism, Compulsive Smartphone Use, Interactivity, Mobile SNS, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Reinforcement

Citation Format(s)