Effect of Self-Affirmation on Smartphone Use Reduction Among Heavy Users

Shunsuke Shimoda, Mai Shimoda, Osamu Higuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent studies have shown an association between excessive smartphone use and health problems. Along with such mounting concerns, health risk information on excessive smartphone use has been presented through various media. Such information is usually aimed at making smartphone users understand the associated health risks, thereby preventing excessive use or reducing current use. However, according to self-affirmation theory, such information may pose a threat to heavy smartphone users because it implies that they are engaging in maladaptive behavior. Therefore, to defend themselves, they may not accept the information and may not be highly motivated to reduce their usage. According to self-affirmation theory, such maladaptive defensive responses can be reduced through the affirmation of important values. We examined whether self-affirmation prior to reading health risk information increased heavy users’ motivation to reduce smartphone usage. Participants (142 undergraduate students aged 18–22 years) reported their mean daily smartphone use. They then completed a writing task that affirmed/did not affirm an important personal value. Next, they read an article on the health risks of smartphone overuse and reported their motivation to reduce smartphone use. As a result, when heavy users did not self-affirm, they were significantly less motivated to reduce use than light users. However, when heavy users self-affirmed, their motivation was significantly higher than when they did not self-affirm. This effect of self-affirmation was not shown in light users. These results suggest that health risk information combined with self-affirmation is effective in reducing smartphone usage by heavy users.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Reports
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • health risk
  • motivation
  • Self-affirmation
  • smartphone use

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