Maladaptive Personality Functioning and Psychopathological Symptoms in Problematic Video Game Players: A Person-Centered Approach (2019)

Front Psychol. 2019 Nov 19;10:2559. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02559.

Musetti A1, Mancini T1, Corsano P1, Santoro G2, Cavallini MC3, Schimmenti A2.



A need exists to increase our understanding of the association between maladaptive personality traits, psychopathological symptoms, game preference, and different types of video game use. In the present study, we used a person-centered approach to identify different subtypes of video game players and we explored how they differ in personality profiles, clinical symptoms, and video game usage.


We assessed problematic gaming via the nine-item Internet Gaming Disorder Scale and self-reported screen time playing video games in a sample of 366 adolescents and young adult gamers. Participants also completed measures on maladaptive personality domains (Personality Inventory for DSM-5 Brief Form), alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 items), and psychopathological symptoms (DSM-5 Self-Rated Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure) and reported which genre of video games they preferred.


Using a person-centered, cluster-analytic approach, we identified four clusters of video game players (Occasional, Passionate, Preoccupied, and Disordered) presenting peculiar combinations of problematic gaming scores and time spent online playing video games. Non-problematic gamers (Occasional and Passionate) represented the majority of the sample (62.3% of the participants). Highly involved gamers who exhibited excessive screen time playing video games (Disordered gamers) presented the highest level of maladaptive personality traits and psychopathological symptoms, and were characterized by the greatest use of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games.


These results have clinical implications on suggesting the importance to determining whether or not problematic gaming activities reflect a dysfunctional emotion-focused coping strategy to avoid inner unpleasant emotional or a more generally compromised emotional and social functioning.

KEYWORDS: alexithymia; cluster analysis; maladaptive personality traits; problematic gaming; psychopathology

PMID: 31803104

PMCID: PMC6877750

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02559

Free PMC Article