Impulsivity as a precedent factor for problematic Internet use: How can we be sure?

Ssu Kuang Chen, Meng-Ting Lo, San-Ju Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Previous research has suggested that problematic Internet use (PIU) is associated with impulse control disorder. Although researchers have suggested that impulsivity is a risk factor for PIU, the literature lacks longitudinal evidence on the relationship between impulsivity and PIU. We aimed to use a cross-lagged analytic framework to identify temporal order effects and hypothesised that impulsivity was the precedent factor for PIU. In a panel sample of college students (N = 367), trait impulsivity and PIU were measured in the spring of freshman year and in their junior year. The measures included a self-developed PIU Scale and the revised Impulsiveness Scale based on Barratt's concept. We found that “non-planning impulsivity” was not associated with PIU. The “motor impulsivity” subfactor was thus adopted in the cross-lagged model. The results suggest that motor impulsivity and PIU were stable across time. Motor impulsivity at Time 1 positively predicted PIU at Time 2, but PIU at Time 1 did not predict motor impulsivity at Time 2. A further investigation using gender as a moderator found a gender difference in the temporal relationship. Because motor impulsivity is a risk factor for PIU, potential prevention strategies based on this result are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Cross-lagged analysis
  • Gender difference
  • Impulsivity
  • Problematic Internet use

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