Investigating the Effect of Personality, Internet Literacy, and Use Expectancies in Internet-Use Disorder: A Comparative Study between China and Germany (2018)

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Mar 23;15(4). pii: E579. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040579.

Stodt B1, Brand M2,3, Sindermann C4, Wegmann E5, Li M6, Zhou M7, Sha P8, Montag C9,10.


Research on Internet-use Disorder (IUD) has increased rapidly, indicating its clinical and global importance. Past studies suggested cultural diversity regarding the prevalence of an IUD, e.g., between Asian and European countries. Additionally, it was found that personality factors, Internet-related cognitions and specific competences seem to influence IUD tendencies, but research lacks in cultural comparative studies regarding these mechanisms. This study focuses on differences between Germany and China regarding the above-mentioned characteristics. German (n = 411; M = 20.70 years, SD = 3.34 years) and Chinese participants (n = 410; M = 20.72 years, SD = 2.65 years) answered the short Internet Addiction Test, Big Five Inventories, the Internet-use Expectancies Scale, as well as the Internet Literacy Questionnaire. The results revealed higher occurrence of IUD symptoms in China. Furthermore, Chinese participants scored significantly higher on neuroticism and agreeableness, whereas German participants scored higher on extraversion and openness. Compared to German participants, Chinese showed higher expectancies to avoid negative feelings online and to be positively reinforced. Regarding Internet literacy, German participants indicated higher skills concerning the reflection and critical analysis of online content, whereas Chinese showed higher expertise in producing and interacting online. Further, simple slope analyses indicated that certain Internet literacy domains were related differentially to IUD symptoms in Germany and China. While Chinese participants with higher reflective skills indicated highest IUD symptoms, reflective skills revealed no effect in Germany. Additionally, higher self-regulative skills correlated with lower IUD symptoms in the German, but not in the Chinese sample. The results give a hint to potential cultural differences regarding IUD, especially on the predictive and protective role of Internet literacy domains.

KEYWORDS: Internet addiction; Internet literacy; Internet-use disorder; cultural differences; expectancies; personality

PMID: 29570663

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15040579