Worry and anger are associated with latent classes of problematic smartphone use severity among college students (2018)

J Affect Disord. 2018 Dec 18;246:209-216. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.12.047.

Elhai JD1, Rozgonjuk D2, Yildirim C3, Alghraibeh AM4, Alafnan AA4.



Problematic smartphone use (PSU) is associated with depression and anxiety symptom severity throughout the literature. However, many important psychopathology constructs have not been examined for associations with PSU severity. Worry and anger are two psychopathology constructs receiving little empirical scrutiny in relation to PSU, but theoretically should demonstrate significant relationships. Furthermore, few studies have used person-centered analyses, such as mixture modeling, to analyze possible latent subgroups of individuals based on PSU symptom ratings.


We conducted a web survey of 300 American college students, using the Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short Version, Penn State Worry Questionnaire-Abbreviated Version, and Dimensions of Anger Reactions-5 Scale.


Conducting mixture modeling using latent profile analysis, we found most support for a three-class model of latent groups of individuals based on their PSU item ratings. Adjusting for age and sex, worry and anger scores were significantly higher in the more severe PSU classes.


Results are discussed in the context of uses and gratifications theory, as well as compensatory internet use theory, in terms of individual differences explaining excessive technology use. Limitations include the non-clinical nature of the sample.


Worry and anger may be helpful constructs in understanding the phenomenology of PSU, and psychological interventions for worry and anger may offset PSU.

KEYWORDS: Anger; Latent class analysis; Smartphone addiction; Worry

PMID: 30583147

DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.12.047