The Relationship Between Personality Traits, Psychopathological Symptoms, and Problematic Internet Use: A Complex Mediation Model (2019)

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Apr 26;21(4):e11837. doi: 10.2196/11837.

Koronczai B#1, Kökönyei G#2,3,4, Griffiths MD#5, Demetrovics Z#2.



There are many empirical studies that demonstrate the associations between problematic internet use, psychopathological symptoms, and personality traits. However, complex models are scarce.


The aim of this study was to build and test a mediation model based on problematic internet use, psychopathological symptoms, and personality traits.


Data were collected from a medical addiction center (43 internet addicts) and internet cafés (222 customers) in Beijing (mean age 22.45, SD 4.96 years; 239/265, 90.2% males). Path analysis was applied to test the mediation models using structural equation modeling.


Based on the preliminary analyses (correlations and linear regression), two different models were built. In the first model, low conscientiousness and depression had a direct significant influence on problematic internet use. The indirect effect of conscientiousness-via depression-was nonsignificant. Emotional stability only affected problematic internet use indirectly, via depressive symptoms. In the second model, low conscientiousness also had a direct influence on problematic internet use, whereas the indirect path via the Global Severity Index was again nonsignificant. Emotional stability impacted problematic internet use indirectly via the Global Severity Index, whereas it had no direct effect on it, as in the first model.


Personality traits (ie, conscientiousness as a protective factor and neuroticism as a risk factor) play a significant role in problematic internet use, both directly and indirectly (via distress level).

KEYWORDS:  personality; problematic internet use; psychopathological symptoms; psychopathology

PMID: 31025955

DOI: 10.2196/11837