Multinational comparison of internet gaming disorder and psychosocial problems versus well-being: Meta-analysis of 20 countries (2018)

Computers in Human Behavior

Volume 88, November 2018, Pages 153-167


• The link between Internet gaming disorder and psychological problems is universal.

• The positive link between IGD and interpersonal problems varies across countries.

• The inverse link between IGD and psychological well-being varies across countries.

• National life satisfaction, power distance and cultural masculinity explain such variations.


Internet gaming disorder (IGD) has been viewed by scholars as (a) a pathology that co-occurs with psychological problems (comorbidity hypothesis), (b) maladaptive coping with abundant interpersonal problems (interpersonal impairment hypothesis), and (c) deficient self-regulation with the underlying motive to restore psychosocial well-being (dilution effect hypothesis). We examined the associations between IGD symptoms and four major criteria (psychological problems, interpersonal problems, psychological well-being, and interpersonal well-being), and compared the magnitude of these associations across countries. To test these hypotheses, we performed mixed-effects meta-analysis on 84 independent samples comprising 58,834 participants from 20 countries. The findings showed moderately strong positive associations between IGD symptoms and psychological problems across the countries, providing some support for the universality of the comorbidity hypothesis. The interpersonal impairment hypothesis was more tenable to countries lower (vs. higher) in power distance, which exhibited a stronger (vs. weaker) positive correlation between IGD symptoms and interpersonal problems. The dilution effect hypothesis was more tenable to countries either higher (vs. lower) in national life satisfaction or lower (vs. higher) in cultural masculinity, each of which displayed a weaker (vs. stronger) inverse correlation between IGD symptoms and interpersonal well-being.