The measurement of maladaptive cognitions underlying problematic video-game playing among adults

Cameron J. Forrest, Daniel L. King, Paul H. Delfabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Research has shown that some individuals can develop excessive patterns of video-gaming, leading to significant psychological and interpersonal problems. Recent reviews of problematic gaming suggest that treatment is best approached from a cognitive-behavioural perspective. However, relatively little research has examined the underlying cognitive factors that might be usefully targeted in an intervention. To address this gap, we present the findings of a study involving N = 485 adult regular video-game players (84% male, Mage = 26 years) who completed a questionnaire about gaming activity, problematic gaming, and problematic cognitions. Gaming cognitions fell on four dimensions: (1) perfectionism, (2) cognitive salience, (3) regret, and (4) behavioural salience. All cognition subscales correlated moderately to highly with two different measures of problematic gaming (r =.49-.76), as well as a measure of emotional distress (DASS-21; r =.25-.35). Large effect sizes (d =.87-1.96) were found when comparing problematic and non-problematic gamers on all four cognition types. This study is among the first to provide empirical evidence for cognitive differences between problematic and non-problematic video-game players, and to identify specific cognitions which could be practically addressed in clinical settings. The implications for the further development and refinement of clinical approaches to problematic gaming, including formulation, assessment, and intervention, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • CBT
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive-behaviour therapy
  • Internet gaming disorder
  • Problem video-gaming


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