Online Game Addiction: Antecedents and Mechanisms


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date22 Jan 2020


Technology addiction, including online game addiction, has become a prevalent societal challenge around the globe. However, research on technology addiction remains limited in the IS research community. The research involves three studies that are designed to address the following three interrelated issue in the technology addiction literature: (1) few studies in the IS discipline have examined the impacts of technological factors on technology addiction; (2) few studies in the IS discipline have investigated the impacts of social factors on technology addiction; and (3) there is no dominant theoretical framework to guide a systematic understanding of complex nature of technology addiction phenomena.

The first study seeks to explore the impact of technological factors, namely functional affordance and symbolic expression, on users’ online game addiction. Drawing on adaptive structuration theory, we operationalize technology-related structures as functional affordance and symbolic expression, task-related structures as perceived ubiquity, user-related structures as personal self-efficacy; shallow appropriation of structures as cognitive absorption; deep appropriation of structures as self-regulation deficiency; and undesirable outcomes as online game addiction. We propose that functional affordance, symbolic expression, perceived ubiquity, and personal self-efficacy positively influence cognitive absorption, which fosters self-regulation deficiency and ultimately transform into online game addiction. Our research model is empirically validate by a mixed-method approach, including a qualitative instrument development process to develop the measures of functional affordance and symbolic expression and a quantitative longitudinal survey to validate the proposed hypotheses. The research model is well-supported and explains 58% variance in online game addiction. This study contributes by emphasizing the impact of technological factors on online game addiction, extending adaptive structuration theory to technology addiction context, and addressing the potential of adaptive structuration theory in dark side of IT use.

The second study seeks to examine the impact of technological and social factors, namely IT identity and social identity, on online social game deviance. We adapt the conceptualization of IT deviance to define social game deviance. We conduct a literature review to identify the different forms of IT deviance and use dual-system theory to guide our typology development. We build upon identity theory to explain the relationship between the two forms of identity (i.e., IT identity and social identity) and IT deviance. To test the research model and associated hypotheses, we first develop the instrument of IT identity and then conduct a longitudinal survey research to validate the hypotheses. Key findings show that (1) the juxtaposition of the state of deviance and the attempt to control IT use produce four archetypical IT deviance; (2) IT identity positively affects social game deviance and fully mediates the effect of social identity on such behavior; and (3) IT identity is predicted by embeddedness, self-efficacy, and instant gratification, whereas social identity is determined by group similarity, group familiarity, and intragroup communication. This study contributes to the literature by proposing a typology of IT deviance, highlighting the impact of identity on social game deviance, extending identity theory to IT deviance and offering implications for curbing deviant online social gaming.

The third study aims to offer a systematic theoretical framework in examining the complex nature of online game addiction phenomena. Building on dual-system theory, we identify two types of reflexive systems called behavioral impulsion system and behavioral habituation system and one type of reflective system called behavioral inhibition system. We further operationalize behavioral impulsion system as perceived enjoyment, perceived escapism, impulsive urge; behavioral inhibition system as self-monitoring, self-judgment, self-reaction, and self-regulation; and behavioral habituation system as usage comprehensiveness, usage frequency, and habit. A two-waves longitudinal survey was employed to empirically validate the model. The research model is well-supported and explains 55% variance in online game addiction. This study contributes to the literature by developing a tripartite model of online game addiction and extending dual-system theory to technology addiction context.

    Research areas

  • online game addiction, functional affordance, symbolic expression, IT identity, social identity, behavioral impulsion system, behavioral inhibition system, behavioral habituation system, adaptive structuration theory, identity theory, dualsystem theory, mixed-method approach, technology addiction, dark side of IT use