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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02559

Maladaptive personality functioning and psychopathological symptoms in problematic video game players: A person-centred approach

 Alessandro Musetti1, 2*,  Tiziana Mancini2,  Paola Corsano2, Gianluca Santoro3, Maria C. Cavallini4 and  Adriano Schimmenti3
  • 1University of Parma, Italy
  • 2Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries, University of Parma, Italy
  • 3Faculty of Human and Society Sciences, Kore University of Enna, Italy
  • 4Independent researcher, Italy

Background: A need exists to increase our understanding of the association between maladaptive personality traits, psychopathological symptoms, game preference, and different types of video game use. In the present study, we used a person-centred approach to identify different subtypes of video game players and we explored how they differ in personality profiles, clinical symptoms, and video game usage.
Methods: We assessed problematic gaming via the nine-item Internet Gaming Disorder Scale and self-reported screen time playing video games in a sample of 366 adolescents and young adult gamers. Participants also completed measures on maladaptive personality domains (Personality Inventory for DSM-5 Brief Form), alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale—20 items), and psychopathological symptoms (DSM-5 Self-Rated Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure) and reported which genre of video games they preferred.
Results: Using a person centred, cluster-analytic approach, we identified four clusters of video game players (Occasional, Passionate, Preoccupied, and Disordered) presenting peculiar combinations of problematic gaming scores and time spent online playing video games. Non-problematic gamers (Occasional and Passionate) represented the majority of the sample (62.3% of the participants). Highly involved gamers who exhibited excessive screen time playing (Disordered gamers) presented the highest level of maladaptive personality traits and psychopathological symptoms, and were characterized by the greatest use of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games.
Conclusion: These results have clinical implications on suggesting the importance to determining whether or not problematic gaming activities reflect a dysfunctional emotion-focused coping strategy to avoid inner unpleasant emotional or a more generally compromised emotional and social functioning.

Keywords: Problematic gaming, Maladaptive personality traits, alexithymia, Psychopathology, Cluster analysis

Received: 26 Aug 2019; Accepted: 29 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Musetti, Mancini, Corsano, Santoro, Cavallini and Schimmenti. 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. Alessandro Musetti, University of Parma, Parma, Italy, alessandro.musetti@unipr.it