Attachment Style and Internet Addiction: An Online Survey (2017)

J Med Internet Res. 2017 May 17;19(5):e170. doi: 10.2196/jmir.6694.

Eichenberg C1, Schott M1, Decker O2, Sindelar B1.



One of the clinically relevant problems of Internet use is the phenomenon of Internet addiction. Considering the fact that there is ample evidence for the relationship between attachment style and substance abuse, it stands to reason that attachment theory can also make an important contribution to the understanding of the pathogenesis of Internet addiction.


The aim of this study was to examine people’s tendency toward pathological Internet usage in relation to their attachment style.


An online survey was conducted. Sociodemographic data, attachment style (Bielefeld questionnaire partnership expectations), symptoms of Internet addiction (scale for online addiction for adults), used Web-based services, and online relationship motives (Cyber Relationship Motive Scale, CRMS-D) were assessed. In order to confirm the findings, a study using the Rorschach test was also conducted.


In total, 245 subjects were recruited. Participants with insecure attachment style showed a higher tendency to pathological Internet usage compared with securely attached participants. An ambivalent attachment style was particularly associated with pathological Internet usage. Escapist and social-compensatory motives played an important role for insecurely attached subjects. However, there were no significant effects with respect to Web-based services and apps used. Results of the analysis of the Rorschach protocol with 16 subjects corroborated these results. Users with pathological Internet use frequently showed signs of infantile relationship structures in the context of social groups. This refers to the results of the Web-based survey, in which interpersonal relationships were the result of an insecure attachment style.


Pathological Internet use was a function of insecure attachment and limited interpersonal relationships.


Internet; Rorschach test; addictive behavior; surveys and questionnaires

PMID: 28526662

DOI: 10.2196/jmir.6694