Is it beneficial to use Internet-communication for escaping from boredom? : Boredom proneness interacts with cue-induced craving and avoidance expectancies in explaining symptoms of Internet-communication disorder

The use of online-communication applications including messengers (e.g. WhatsApp) or social networking services (e.g. Facebook) on the smartphone has turned into daily practice for billions of people, for example during waiting times. An increasing number of individuals show diminished control over their usage of these applications despite negative consequences in everyday life. This can be referred to as Internet-communication disorder (ICD). The current study investigated the effect of boredom proneness on symptoms of an ICD. It further examined the mediating role of cognitive and affective mechanisms, namely expectancies to avoid negative feelings online and cue-induced craving. The results of a structural equation model (N = 148) illustrate that boredom proneness is a risk factor for the development and maintenance of an ICD as it had a significant direct effect on ICD symptoms. Furthermore, boredom proneness predicted avoidance expectancies as well as cue-induced craving. Both in turn enhanced the risk of developing ICD tendencies. Moreover, both variables mediated the effect of boredom proneness on ICD and interacted among each other. In summary, the results demonstrate that people who have a higher susceptibility to experience boredom show higher expectancies to avoid negative emotions online, which promotes higher craving reactions when being confronted with specific cues (e.g. an incoming message), and could result in ICD tendencies.


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