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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02402

The Mediating Role of Coping Styles on Impulsivity, Behavioral Inhibition/Approach System, and Internet Addiction in Adolescents from a Gender Perspective

 QI LI1, 2,  Weine Dai1, 3, 4, 5,  Yang Zhong1, 6, Lingxiao Wang1, 6,  Bibing Dai7* and  Xun Liu1, 6
  • 1Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology (CAS), China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • 3Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 4Sino-Danish College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • 5Sino Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC), China
  • 6Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • 7Institute of Psychology, Tianjin Medical University, China

Previous findings have shown that impulsivity and Behavioral Inhibition/Approach System (BIS/BAS) have substantial effects on adolescents’ Internet addiction, but the mechanisms underlying these associations and gender differences in these effects have received little attention. We examined the mediating effects of coping styles from impulsivity, and BIS/BAS to Internet addiction as well as gender differences in these associations. A total of 416 Chinese adolescents were examined using a cross-sectional survey involving Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet Addiction, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, BIS/BAS scales, and Coping Style Scale for Middle School Students. The data were analyzed using the independent sample t-test, chi-square test, Pearson correlation, and structure equation modeling. The results from the multiple-group (by adolescent gender) structural model analysis revealed that both impulsivity (p < 0.001) and BIS (p = 0.001) directly predicted positive Internet addiction in girls, while both impulsivity (p = 0.011) and BAS (p = 0.048) directly predicted positive Internet addiction in boys. Furthermore, emotion-focused coping mediated the relationship between impulsivity and Internet addiction (β = 0.080, 95% CI: 0.023-0.168) and the relationship between BIS and Internet addiction (β = 0.064, 95% CI: 0.013-0.153) in girls, while in boys, problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping mediated the association between impulsivity and Internet addiction (β = 0.118, 95% CI: 0.031-0.251; β = 0.065, 95% CI: 0.010-0.160, respectively) and problem-focused coping mediated the association between BAS and Internet addiction (β = -0.058, 95% CI: (-0.142)–(-0.003)). These findings extend our insight into the mechanisms underlying the associations among impulsivity, BIS/BAS, and Internet addiction in adolescents and suggest that gender-sensitive training approaches to decrease adolescents’ Internet addiction are indispensable. These interventions should focus on the different gender predictors of adolescent Internet addiction and on the development of specific coping styles for boys and girls respectively.

Keywords: adolescents, impulsivity, Coping styles, Internet addiction, gender differences, behavioral inhibition/ approach system

Received: 05 Jun 2019; Accepted: 08 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 LI, Dai, Zhong, Wang, Dai and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Bibing Dai, Institute of Psychology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China, daibibing@tmu.edu.cn