Background: Excessive stress has a negative impact on many aspects of life for both individuals and societies, from studying and working to health and well-being. Each individual has their unique level of stress-proneness, and positive or negative outcomes of stress may be affected by it. Technology-aided interventions have potential efficacy in the self-management of stress. However, current Web-based or mobile stress management solutions may not reach the individuals that would need them the most, that is, stress-sensitive people. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine how personality is associated with stress among Finnish university students and their interest to use apps that help in managing stress. Methods: We used 2 structured online questionnaires (combined, n=1001) that were advertised in the University of Helsinki's mailing lists. The first questionnaire (n=635) was used to investigate intercorrelations between the Big Five personality variables (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) and other stress-related background variables. The second questionnaire (n=366) was used to study intercorrelations between the above-mentioned study variables and interest in using stress management apps. Results: The quantitative findings of the first questionnaire showed that higher levels of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were associated with lower self-reported stress. Neuroticism, in turn, was found to be strongly associated with rumination, anxiety, and depression. The findings of the second questionnaire indicated that individuals characterized by the Big Five personality traits of neuroticism and agreeableness were particularly interested to use stress management apps (r=.27, P<.001 and r=.11, P=.032, respectively). Moreover, the binary logistic regression analysis revealed that when a person's neuroticism is one SD above average (ie, it is higher than among 84% of people), the person has roughly 2 times higher odds of being interested in using a stress management app. Respectively, when a person's agreeableness is one SD above average, the person has almost 1.4 times higher odds of being interested in using a stress management app. Conclusions: Our results indicated that personality traits may have an influence on the adoption interest of stress management apps. Individuals with high neuroticism are, according to our results, adaptive in the sense that they are interested in using stress management apps that may benefit them. On the contrary, low agreeableness may lead to lower interest to use the mobile stress management apps. The practical implication is that future mobile stress interventions should meaningfully be adjusted to improve user engagement and support health even among less-motivated users, for instance, to successfully engage individuals with low agreeableness.
- mental health
- mobile applications
- psychological stress personality
- mobile phone
- surveys and wuestionnaires