Motivational components of tolerance in Internet gaming disorder

Daniel L. King, Madeleine C.E. Herd, Paul H. Delfabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Tolerance in DSM-5 Internet gaming disorder (IGD) refers to a need for increasing time spent in gaming activities. However, the focus on ‘time’ has been criticized for being a superficial imitation of tolerance in substance-based addiction. Gaming tolerance may require a broader conceptualization of its motivational and cognitive features. The present study aimed to investigate tolerance-like processes in gaming and their association with IGD symptoms. An online survey that included a 20-item measure of gaming-related tolerance was administered to 630 adult gamers, including 4.0% who screened positively for IGD. Exploratory factor analysis indicated that a three-factor model for the tolerance items provided the best fit. These factors were: (1) Wealth, the need to accumulate in-game rewards of increasing rarity, novelty, or quantity; (2) Achievement, the need to pursue goal-driven activities of increasing complexity, difficulty, or uniqueness; and (3) Inadequacy, the need to rectify perceived insufficiencies in gaming capability or progress. A hierarchical regression analysis indicated that Inadequacy was modestly but significantly related to other IGD symptoms, after controlling for age, gender, and time spent gaming. These findings support the notion that problematic gaming may be motivated by the need for completion of increasingly more intricate, time-consuming, or difficult goals to achieve satisfaction and the need to rectify perceived inadequacies related to gaming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Behavioral addiction
  • DSM-5
  • Gaming
  • Internet gaming disorder
  • Motivation
  • Tolerance


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