Inferiority feelings and internet addiction among Turkish University students in the context of COVID-19: The mediating role of emotion dysregulation

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Çimşir E., Akdoğan R.

Current Psychology, vol.43, no.5, pp.4245-4254, 2024 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12144-023-04661-7
  • Journal Name: Current Psychology
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, BIOSIS, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.4245-4254
  • Keywords: Emotion Regulation Difficulties, Inferiority feelings, Internet Addiction
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Emotion dysregulation is a major predictor of increased internet addiction. However, the psychological experiences linked to increased internet addiction through higher emotion dysregulation are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate if inferiority feelings, an Adlerian construct theorized to be rooted in childhood, are associated with increased Internet addiction through emotion dysregulation. Another objective of the study was to determine if the internet use characteristics of young adults changed during the pandemic. A conceptual model was validated statistically using the PROCESS macro with a survey method involving 443 university students living in different regions of Turkey. The results support the significance of all three effects of inferiority feelings on internet addiction, namely the total (B = 0.30, CI = [0.24, 0.35]), the direct (B = 0.22, BootCI = [0.15, 0.29]), and the indirect (B = 0.08, BootCI = [0.04, 0.12]). In other words, inferiority feelings are associated with a greater level of internet addiction both directly and indirectly through greater emotion dysregulation. Moreover, the overall prevalence of Internet addiction was 45.8% among the participants and that of severe Internet addiction was 22.1%. Almost 90% of the participants reported an increase in their recreational Internet use during the pandemic, with an average daily increase of 2.58 h (SD = 1.49), the significance of which was supported by the t-test results. The results provide important insights for parents, practitioners, and researchers on addressing the internet addiction problem among young adults living in Turkey or other countries that are similar to Turkey.