Comparison of the personality and other psychological factors of students with internet addiction who do and do not have associated social dysfunction (2015)

COMENTS: A lot of internet addicts do not have have concurrent social dysfunction

Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 25;27(1):36-41. doi: 10.11919/j.issn.1002-0829.214129.

Chen Q1, Quan X1, Lu H1, Fei P1, Li M1.



There is ongoing controversy about whether or not internet addiction should be considered a non-substance behavioral addiction (like gambling disorder) and, if so, what diagnostic criteria should be used to define the condition. Current criteria for internet addiction give equal diagnostic weight to the physiological symptoms and the social consequences of internet addiction.


Assess the psychological correlates of social dysfunction among individuals with internet addiction.


A total of 133 students who sought treatment at the Guangji Psychiatric Hospital from July 2011 to December 2013 for psychological problems related to excessive internet use and who currently met Young criteria for internet addiction were identified; 31 of the 38 students who meet rigorous criteria for concurrent internet-related social dysfunction and a random sample of 44 of the 95 students without concurrent social dysfunction completed a battery of psychosocial measures: seven supplementary scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the Egna Minnen av Barndoms Uppfostran perceived parenting scale, the Perceived Social Support Scale, the Trait Coping Style Questionnaire, and the Symptom Checklist 90.


Compared to persons with internet addiction without accompanying social dysfunction, those with social dysfunction had higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, and paranoia; lower levels of social responsibility, anxiety, self-control, and family social support; and they were more likely to employ negative coping strategies. There were however, no differences in perceived parenting styles between the two groups.


A relatively small proportion of individuals who meet the physiological markers of internet addiction simultaneously report significant internet-related social dysfunction. There are several psychosocial measures that distinguish persons with internet addiction who do or do not have concurrent social dysfunction. Further research is needed to determine whether or not these are two distinct subtypes of internet addiction and whether or not persons with internet addiction without concurrent social dysfunction should be classified as suffering from a ‘mental disorder’.


China; addictive behavior; internet addiction; mental disorder; social function; students