Understanding problematic game behavior: prevalence and the role of social cognitive determinants

Maria Catharina Haagsma

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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In the last two decades, there has been growing academic attention on the phenomenon of problematic game use. Empirical research has consistently identified a subgroup of gamers in Western, industrial countries who report adverse psychosocial consequences related to their video-gaming behavior. The aim of this thesis is to get a better understanding of problematic game behavior and to contribute to the development of knowledge on this topic in several ways. First, video gaming habits and problematic game behavior among the Dutch population was examined. Second, underlying mechanisms and predictors of problematic game use were identified using established theoretical frameworks. The studies presented in this thesis have contributed to the current knowledge of problematic gaming in several ways. Information on video game habits and problematic gaming among the Dutch population has been provided. Next, game related experiences and cognitions were explored in the development of problematic game behavior through in-depth interviews. This thesis also highlights the importance of examining psychological and cognitive determinants using comprehensive theoretical frameworks. The provided theory of planned behavior, the model of media attendance, and the cognitive behavioral theory, appeared useful for this purpose to some extent in order to identify which factors contribute to game behavior and problematic game use. According to the model of media attendance and the cognitive-behavioral model, if game behavior is considered to be a problem, it may be largely dependent on the degree of self-control that individuals have over their own game behavior. Moreover, game related experiences and cognitions such as gaming for mood regulation and social pressure may also play a role. If people come to rely on the game world for coping with negative feelings and their social relations, this could eventually lead to problems. Psychosocial wellbeing appeared to play a role in the development of these maladaptive cognitions. Thus, the reasons why people play games seem to be an integral part of the explanation of problematic game behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Seydel, E.R., Supervisor
  • Peters, O., Advisor
  • Pieterse, Marcel E., Advisor
Award date23 Nov 2012
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3439-0
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2012


  • METIS-289495
  • IR-82276


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