Interparental conflict and adolescent internet addiction: The mediating role of emotional insecurity and the moderating role of big five personality traits | Example Psychology Essay

The summarised article investigated the mediating role of emotional insecurity in relationship between interparental conflict and adolescent internet addiction. Additionally, the study explored whether this mediating process was moderated by big five personality traits (Big Five). The Big Five or five-factor model assumes five broad factors of personality — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1985, 1992). The Big Five have been identified by different authors (Fiske, 1949; Norman, 1963; Tupes & Christal, 1961), and research has provided strong support for their robustness and comprehensiveness (Digman & Inouye, 1986; Dyce, 1994; Piedmont, McCrae & Costa, 1991). However, criticisms of the Big Five regarding its usefulness in predicting individuals' behaviour have also been raised. For example, Epstein (1994) pointed out that the Big Five are useful for describing the structure but not the process: in other words, they offer good description for what people are like, but fail to effectively describe how they operate.

Existing research has demonstrated positive relationship between interparental conflict and adolescent internet addiction (Kuss, van Rooij, Shorter, Griffiths & van de Mheen, 2013; Park, Kim & Cho, 2008; Terres-Trindade & Mosmann, 2015), with interparental conflict shown to be a significant risk factor for adolescent internet addiction (Ko et al., 2015; Deng et al., 2012). Whilst previous studies focused predominantly on association between these two variables, current study investigated the underlying mediating and moderating mechanisms. The study hypothesised that the relationship between interparental conflict and adolescent internet addiction would be mediated by emotional insecurity and that this mediating process would be moderated by two of the big five personality traits, conscientiousness and neuroticism. As previous research produced contradictory results regarding relationship between agreeableness, openness to experience and extraversion and internet addiction (Zhou, Li, Wang & Zhao, 2017), the study did not hypothesise the moderation effects of these three variables.

The study was conducted on 1189 Chinese adolescents who completed questionnaires assessing their perceptions of interparental conflict, internet addiction, emotional insecurity and big five personality traits. After controlling for demographic variables, the results revealed strong positive association between interparental conflict and participants' internet addiction. This relationship was shown to be partially mediated by emotional insecurity, with the mediation effect accounting for 18.9% of the total effect. Mediation process was shown to be moderated by neuroticism, whilst there was no significant moderation effect of conscientiousness. Higher neuroticism strengthened the negative effect of interparental conflict on adolescent internet addiction via emotional insecurity, although the moderation effect was relatively small (R2=0.008).

The study had several limitations. Due to its cross-sectional design, it could not produce conclusions about causal relationships between variables. As the study was conducted on community sample, it is also questionable whether its findings can be generalised to clinical population. Furthermore, the study relied solely on self-reports in gathering information. Further studies would benefit from employing multiple reporting sources in order to obtain more comprehensive and accurate data.

References

Costa, P.T. JR., McCrae, R.R. (1985). The NEO Personality Inventory. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Costa, P.T., McCrae, R.R. (1992). The five-factor model of personality and its relevance to personality disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 6, 343-359.

Deng, L., Zhang, J., Fang, X., Liu, Q., Tang, H., & Lan, J. (2012). Perceived parental conflict and adolescents' Internet addiction: The mediating effect of adolescents' conflict appraisal and emotional management. Psychological Development and Education, 28, 539-544.

Digman, J.M., Inouye, J. (1986). Further specification of the five robust factors of personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,50, 116-123.

Dyce, J.A. (1994). Personality Disorders: Alternatives to the official diagnostic system. Journal of Personality Disorders, 8, 77-88.

Epstein, S. (1994). Trait theory as personality theory: Can a part be as great as the whole? Psychological Inquiry, 5, 120-124.

Fiske, D.W. (1949). Consistency of the factorial structures of personality ratings from different sources. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 44, 329-344.

Ko, C. H., Wang, P. W., Liu, T. L., Yen, C. F., Chen, C. S., & Yen, J. Y. (2015). Bidirectional associations between family factors and Internet addiction among adolescents in a prospective investigation. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 69, 192-200.

Kuss, D. J., van Rooij, A. J., Shorter, G. W., Griffiths, M. D., & van de Mheen, D. (2013). Internet addiction in adolescents: Prevalence and risk factors. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1987-1996.

Norman, W.T. (1963). Toward an adequate taxonomy of personality attributes: Replicated factor structure in peer nomination personality ratings. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 574 - 583.

Park, S. K., Kim, J. Y., & Cho, C. B. (2008). Prevalence of Internet addiction and correlations with family factors among South Korean adolescents. Adolescence, 43, 895-909.

Piedmont, R.L., McCrae, R.R., Costa, P T . (1991). Adjective Check List Scales and the five-factor model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 630-637.

Terres-Trindade, M., & Mosmann, C. P. (2015). Discriminant profile of young Internet dependents: The role of family relationships. Paideia, 25, 353-361.

Tupes, E.C.,  Christal, R.E. (1961). Recurrent personality factors based on trait ratings. (USAF ASD Technical Report, No. 61-97). Lackland Airforce Base, TX: U.S. Air Force.

Zhou, Y., Li, D., Li, X., Wang, Y., & Zhao, L. (2017). Big five personality and adolescent Internet addiction: The mediating role of coping style. Addictive Behaviors, 64, 42-48.

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