McNair Summer Research Program

Faculty Mentor(s)

Anne Koenig, PhD

Publication Date

Summer 8-10-2023


Cognitive Science | Social Psychology

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement


TikTok’s design exploits sensory preferences through continuous scrolling, providing a seamless infinite amount of content. Therefore, I hypothesized that TikTok creates a flow state where people are immersed in the app and may lead to addiction-like symptoms. TikTok use may also be associated with boredom proneness and anxiety. Via a self-report survey, participants indicated their use of social media apps, answered items measuring their psychological flow state on TikTok and Instagram (as a comparison), reported the frequency of behaviors indicating symptoms of addiction, and rated their self-esteem, boredom proneness, and general anxiety. Results showed 7 of the 9 flow subscales were higher when using TikTok than Instagram, especially feelings of control and time distortion. Time distortion, feelings of control, and decreased evaluation were correlated with self-reported addictive behaviors on TikTok. TikTok users (but not Instagram users) also demonstrated higher anxiety and boredom proneness than non-users. Results suggest that TikTok use is psychologically different from other social platforms and could cause greater negative outcomes, which need to be further investigated.