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Investigating microblogging addiction tendency through the lens of uses and gratifications theory

Qian Li (Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Xunhua Guo (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Xue Bai (Department of Marketing and MIS, Fox School of Business and Management, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Wei Xu (Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 2 October 2018




Considering the popularity and addictive attributes of microblogging, the purpose of this paper is to explore the key drivers of the microblogging addiction tendency, and to investigate the causal relationship between microblogging usage and addiction tendency through the lens of the uses and gratifications (U&G) theory.


By extending the U&G theory to accommodate the negative consequences of gratification, a research model that explains the relationships among microblogging use, gratification and addiction tendency was developed and empirically examined based on the data collected from 520 microblogging users in China.


The results showed that different types of microblogging use lead to different categories of gratification to different extents, while different categories of gratification play different roles in determining the level of addiction tendency. Specifically, the effect of content gratification on addiction is marginal, while social gratification has significant effects on all dimensions of addiction tendency.


The present study has both theoretical and practical implications. From a theoretical perspective, unlike many previous studies applied the U&G theory to explore the positive outcomes of media uses, this paper extends the U&G by including addiction tendency as a negative psychological outcome of U&G., resulting a research framework (use-gratification-addiction framework). Meanwhile, this paper contributes to the extending literature by examining the constructs of U&G at a granular level and investigated the causal relationship between “uses” and “gratifications.”



This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos 71301163, 71771212, U1711262), Humanities and Social Sciences Foundation of the Ministry of Education (Nos 14YJA630075 and 15YJA630068), the People’s Livelihood Investigation Project of Social Sciences Development Fund (201701602), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and Research Funds of Renmin University of China (No. 15XNLQ08).


Li, Q., Guo, X., Bai, X. and Xu, W. (2018), "Investigating microblogging addiction tendency through the lens of uses and gratifications theory", Internet Research, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 1228-1252.



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