Impulsivity as a precedent factor for problematic Internet use: How can we be sure?

Ssu‐Kuang Chen, Meng‐Ting Lo, Sunny S. J. Lin
Published Online:
13 Nov 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 52 Issue 5

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Previous research has suggested that problematic Internet use (PIU) is associated with impulse control disorder. Although researchers have suggested that impulsivity is a risk factor for PIU, the literature lacks longitudinal evidence on the relationship between impulsivity and PIU. We aimed to use a cross‐lagged analytic framework to identify temporal order effects and hypothesised that impulsivity was the precedent factor for PIU. In a panel sample of college students (N = 367), trait impulsivity and PIU were measured in the spring of freshman year and in their junior year. The measures included a self‐developed PIU Scale and the revised Impulsiveness Scale based on Barratt's concept. We found that “non‐planning impulsivity” was not associated with PIU. The “motor impulsivity” subfactor was thus adopted in the cross‐lagged model. The results suggest that motor impulsivity and PIU were stable across time. Motor impulsivity at Time 1 positively predicted PIU at Time 2, but PIU at Time 1 did not predict motor impulsivity at Time 2. A further investigation using gender as a moderator found a gender difference in the temporal relationship. Because motor impulsivity is a risk factor for PIU, potential prevention strategies based on this result are suggested.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science