Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Raymond Fleming

Committee Members

Hanjoo Lee, Diane Reddy, Marcellus M. Merritt


Mental Health, Personality, Psychophysiology, Social Media, TikTok


Social media has become increasingly relevant to everyday life since its inception, with new social media applications being created regularly. There has been some research regarding social media use and mental health; with studies finding both negative and positive mental health effects possible. TikTok, one of the newest and fastest growing social media applications has not been studied thoroughly to investigate potential mental health effects. The psychophysiological impacts of social media use have not been explored at all. An initial survey was done to investigate personality and mental health effects of social media use as well as if the reasonings behind social media use played a role in potential mental health effects. The survey data demonstrated that there were significant relationships between personality (specifically neuroticism and extraversion) and several socializing and social media variables; indicating that levels of those personality traits may be crucial to how one socializes and utilizes social media. The survey also found that mental health (via the DASS-21) had significant relationships with several socializing and social media related variables. One important variable found appeared to be using social media to escape their current reality. The pilot laboratory study is the first of its kind; investigating both mental health implications and physiological changes, via heart rate, of TikTok use. Although there have only been four participants thus far, data from the pilot laboratory study indicate that TikTok use may be associated to some changes to heart rate, but changes were unable to be tested using statistical analysis due to the small sample size. Together, the survey and pilot laboratory study show that this is a viable avenue for research and should continue to be investigated with a larger sample size. The information provided in both chapters of this document displays the potential for significant effects to stem from social media use and how those effects may change based on individual differences in personality traits and mental health. Overall, the information in this document could be used as a guide for future research endeavors within this topic of study and help fill the gap in the research regarding psychophysiology and social media.

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Psychology Commons