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Psychological and Behavioural Characteristics of
Severe Internet Addicts
Ye Ying
Institute of Psychology, Chinese
To explore the psychological and behavioral characteristics of severe internet addicts.
Methods: 30 severe internet game addicts (aged from 16~25 years) and 43 non-addicts
participated in the investigation. Measures included Internet Addiction Scale, Eysenck
Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Social Support Questionnaire, Life Purpose Scale and
Sensation Seeking Scale. Results: Internet addicts got significantly lower scores than
non-addicts on Social Support Questionnaire (P<0.01), Life Purpose Scale (P<0.05) and
Thrill and Adventure Seeking (TAS) (P<0.05). Scores of Objective Support, Utilization of
Support and Sensation Seeking could predict the Internet Addiction score of the addict
group. Internet addicts have significantly lower score on factor Lie of EPQ than nonaddicts (P<0.01). Conclusions: Severe internet game addicts have the characteristics of
low social support, less purposes in life and less adventure tendency. Sensation Seeking
and Social Support have predictive function for internet addiction degree.
Academy of Sciences
No.4 Datun Road, Chaoyang
Beijing, 100101, China
Graduate University of Chinese
Academy of Science
No. 19 Yuquan Road, Shijingshan
Beijing, 100049, China
Gao Wenbin
Institute of Psychology, Chinese
Academy of Sciences
Internet addiction; personality; social surpport; sensation seeking
No.4 Datun Road, Chaoyang
ACM Classification Keywords
J. Computer Applications
J.4 Social and behavioral sciences
J.4.2 Psychology
Beijing, 100101, China
General Terms
Human Factors, Measurement
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
CSCW 2011, March 19–23, 2011, Hangzhou, China.
Most of the studies on psychological characteristics of
internet addicts were conducted in schools, and there is
little research on internet teenager addicts who need to
accept therapy in the hospital, not to mention those
who are already hospitalized. The problems of using
internet in Chinese are primarily reflected on those who
play internet games. This survey focused on the
psychological and behavioural characteristics of severe
internet game addicts who were hospitalized and
receiving therapy, which may help to provide valid data
and information for the development of intervention
and treatment of severe internet game addiction.
II. Methods
Internet addcits: 58 severe internet addicts who were
hosoitalized and receiving psychological therapy met
the following crieteria were diaganosed as internet
addiction disorder (IAD) : (1)Young’s (1988) symptoms
crieteria[1] (2) Severity criterion: severe social function
impariment resulting from overuse of internet; (3)
Course of disease: meeting the symptoms criteria and
severity criterion for at least one month; (4) Exclusion
criteria: we excluded those with organic mental
disorder, schizophrenia, affective disorder, and internet
addiction caused by psychoactive substances or nonaddictive substances and those who got scores under
50 on the Internet Addiction Scale (Chinese
Version).The 30 legal participants left were all male,
aged between 16 to 25 yeas (M=18.4, SD=2.5).
Control group: 60 sophomores from a senior high
school and a university in Beijing were measured by the
Internet Addiction Scale (IAS, Chinese Version). 43
legal participants were those who were using internet
and got a score under 50 on the IAS. Their average age
was 18.8 (SD=1.8).
Internet Addiction Scale (IAS, Chinses Version) was
translated and revised from Internet Addiction
Impairment Index (IAII)[2].The IAS has 20 items likert
1~5. In this survey, the Cronbach’ α was 0.936.
Eysenck Personality Questionnaire’s (EPQ) Chinese
Adult Version[3] has 85-item scale consists of four subscales: E sub-scale is for Extrovision-Introvision; N subscale is for Neuroticism; P sub-scale is for Psychoticism;
and L sub-scale is for Lie. Social Support Questionnaire
measures one's social support from three dimesions:
subjective support, objective support, and the utility of
support. The higher score a participants gets, the more
support he/she feels or gets. Life Purpose Scale[5] was
designed to measure whether a person’s life is
meaningful and purposeful. The higher score a person
gets the more meaningful and purposeful his/her life is.
Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS)[6] has 40-item and is
divided into four sub-scales: thrill and adventure
seeking (TAS), experience seeking (ES), Disinhibition
(Dis), and Boredom Susceptibility (BS).
Informed consent was obtained from the partipants and
their parents. All the internet addicts were assembled in
a quiet room and asked to accomplish all the
quetionnaires independently under the guidance and
supervision of the investigator. So did the participants
in control group.
Data analysis
All the data was analyzed with Statistical Program for
Social Sciences (SPSS) 11.5.
III. Results
Comparisons of psychological and behavioural
characteristics between internet addicts and control
Internet addicts got significantly lower scores than nonaddicts on Social Support Questionnaire (t=3.21,
P<0.01) and one of its factors Subjectve Support
(t=3.83, P<0.01), Life Purpose Scale (t=2.57, P<0.05)
and thrill and adventure seeking (TAS) of Sensation
Seeking Scale (t=2.10, P<0.05).
Multiple linear regressions for the internet addicts’
addiction degree
Stepwise multiple linear regressions were conducted to
understand which psychological and behavioural
variables could predict the addiction degree of the
internet game addicts. All the psychological and
behavioural characteristics measured in this survey
were independent variables. The results in Table One
showed that the scores of utility of support, objective
support and sensation seeking were playing a role in
predicting the addiction degree of the internet addicts.
Table 1 Multiple linear regressions for the internet addicts’
addiction degree
Utility of support
SE (B)
Sensation seeking
Objective support
*P<0.05, **P<0.01
Comparisons of Eysenck personality questionnaires
between internet addicts and control group
T tests were taken to compare their respective scores
on each subscale of Eysenck Personality Questionnaires
to understand the personality differences between the
internet addicts and the control group. The results
showed that score of internet addicts on Lie sub-scale
was significantly lower (t=3.46, P=0.001) than that of
control group’s. On Psychoticism sub-scale, score of
internet addicts was marginally higher (P=0.06) than
that of control group’s.
IV. Discussion
Results of this investigation showed that low social
support was one of the key characteristics of severe
internet addicts, and severe internet addicts lacked life
purpose and clear sense of direction. In addition, what
can be implied from the survey is that there is a greater
possibility that people with low thrill and adventure
seeking tendency will indulge in internet games, as the
results showed that severe internet addicts usually
withdrawed from the society and rejected to accept
themselves. For these people, internet environment is a
relatively safe place to escape from the reality.
Social support has been being used to measure a
person’s mental health, for it can help people to cope
with stress and maintain good feelings[4]. The results of
this investigation demonstrated that the social support
that could be provided for severe internet addicts is
comparatively little. What is worse, these addicts might
have no idea how to utilize the limited supporting
resource, so that they chose to escape from the
troubles in reality. In this sense, internet functions as a
haven for the addicts, and this is one of the reasons
why it is extremely difficult for internet addicts to
control their playing time on internet.
On the other hand, sensation seeking is a person’s
personality characterized as seeking experience of
diversity, novelty and complexity[7]. Former research
pointed out that the personality of sensation seeking
was a pathogenic cause of drug addiction, and boredom
susceptibility dimension was significantly correlated
with internet addiction[7]. As we know, internet
addiction is classified in the category of "abnormal
habits and impulse control disorder"[8], which is a kind
of "non-substance-related behavioural addictions"[9]. So
there is a possibility that sensation seeking is a
predictive factor to internet addiction.
In addition, low score on Lie sub-scale indicates that
internet addicts are inclined to give up themselves.
Generally speaking, people are more prone to
overestimate themselves and show their good side on
self-report questionnaire. However, Internet addicts
with low social support seemingly do not care about
others’ evaluation about themselves and feel no need
to lie about their negative beliefs about themselves.
Furthermore, Psychoticism represents a personality of
loneliness and stubbornness. People with this
personality do not care others and have difficulty in
adapting evironment. It is speculated that young people
with high psychoticism are more likely to indulge in
V. Conclusions
Severe internet addicts are in worse mental
health condition with less supporting resource
than non-addicts. Also, personality factors are
important in the emergence and process of
internet addiction. Internet addicts are probably
with the personality of low sensation seeking and
high Psychoticism. All these information can be
used in the treatment and therapy of severe
internet addiction.
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a new clinical disorder", CyberPsychology and
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