Avatar identification and problematic gaming: The role of self-concept clarity

Raquel Green, Paul H. Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Some video-gaming activities feature customizable avatars that enable users to fulfil self-identity needs. Research evidence (e.g., fMRI and survey studies) has suggested that poorer self-concept and stronger avatar identification are associated with problematic gaming. Player-avatar relationships have thus been proposed to require attention in gaming disorder assessment and interventions. To examine the interplay of player-avatar interactions in problematic gaming, this study investigated whether avatar identification differed according to avatar characteristics and game types, and whether the association between avatar identification and problem gaming was mediated by self-concept clarity. A total of 993 adult respondents completed an online survey that assessed problematic gaming, avatar identification, and self-concept clarity. The results indicated that avatar identification scores were generally unrelated to avatar characteristics (e.g., human resemblance, degree of customizability, and in-game perspective). Avatar identification was significantly positively related to problematic gaming and significantly negatively related to self-concept clarity. There was a significant indirect relationship between avatar identification on problem gaming mediated through self-concept clarity. These findings suggest that poorer self-concept clarity may be one mechanism by which avatar identification affects problem gaming. Future research with clinical samples may help to gain a better understanding of avatar-related processes and psychological vulnerabilities related to problematic gaming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106694
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Avatar identification
  • Gaming disorder
  • Problematic gaming
  • Self-concept clarity


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