Assessing Problematic Video Gaming Using the Theory of Planned Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Dutch Young People

Maria C. Haagsma, Daniel L. King, Marcel E. Pieterse, Oscar Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Although excessive video gaming has been linked to a range of psychological problems in young people, there have been few systematic attempts to conceptualize problem gaming using established psychological theory. The aim of this study was to examine problematic game use (PGU) using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). A two-wave, six-month longitudinal study examined relationships between core components of the TPB model, video gaming activity and problematic video-game play. Respondents were recruited from nine pre-vocational and senior vocational schools in the western region of the Netherlands. The sample consisted of 810 video game-playing adolescents and young adults (72. 8 % boys) aged 12 to 22 years. The results showed that TPB predictors, including subjective norm, perceived behavioral control (PBC) and descriptive norm, explained 13 % of the variance in video gaming intention. Although TBP variables accounted for a significant amount of variance in PGU scores at baseline, the TPB model was less useful in predicting future gaming behavior and PGU. Perceived behavioral control was found to be the most important factor in predicting problem video-gaming behavior, this has some practical implications with regard to the treatment of problem video-gaming among young people. For example, assessing a client's perceived lack of control over gaming may be a simple but useful screening measure to evaluate risk of future problem play. Furthermore, treatment strategies may be aimed at helping the client to rebuild self-control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-185
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Longitudinal
  • Problematic video game use
  • Theory of Planned Behavior


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