ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (07): 630-638.

Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Cognitive Characteristics of Pathological Internet Users in Different Emotional Modes

ZHENG Xi-Fu   

  1. Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Received:2008-11-11 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2009-07-30 Online:2009-07-30
  • Contact: ZHENG Xi-Fu

Abstract: PIU(Pathological Internet Use) or the Internet Addiction Disorder(IAD),the problematic Internet Use, the incidence of which is about 6%~14%. It’s a mental barrier among young people that has received public attention. STROOP paradigm was adopted in the initial research of the cognitive characteristics of PIU. It was found that the RT of PIU subjects on Internet-related words and emotional words were longer than normal group. They can speculate if there may be cognitive processing and emotional processing through RT. However, these paradigms couldn’t ensure the basic characteristics of the cognitive and emotional processing.
A total of 454 college students were chosen according to the Adolescent Pathological Internet Use Scale (APIUS), of which 31 were PIU students as the subjects of this experiment. Another 31 students were selected randomly from the non-PIU subjects as the control group. There was no significant difference between the two groups in gender and age. The experimental materials were 60 pictures connected with words. Each first character had 3 alternative last characters ranging from positive, neutral to negative to form 2-character word. The positions of the last character were random in the experiment. The subjects were required to choose the proper character. Their choices and the RT are recorded. The research adopted a 3(positive, negative or neutral)×2(priming types: happy, sad, non-priming)×2 (PIU and non-PIU ) mixed design. The group with PIU/non-PIU was the between-subjects design, others were the within-subjects designs.
There was a significant difference among the three sorts of words, For all the subjects,65.34% of the words they chose were positive words, 21.1% were neutral words, 13.5% were negative words. The PIU subjects chose less positive words but more negative words than the non-PIU group. the subjects with or without PIU chose positive words more (there was a significant difference), and negative words less (there was a significant difference in the non-PIU group, but not in the PIU subjects). There was a significant difference in the chosen of positive words between PIU group and the non-PIU group in the sad priming. In different priming types, however, there was only a nearly significant difference for negative words between the two groups. There was a significant difference among the RT of different type of words: the RT of negative words was the longest; the RT of positive words was the shortest. The RT for the positive words of PIU subjects was longer than the non-PIU group, but shorter for the neutral words and negative words and the difference was significant. For the two groups, the RT in the happy priming was the longest, that in the no-priming one was the second, and that in the sad priming was shortest. But only in the condition of happy priming, the PIU subjects chose more quickly than those from another group, there was a significant difference but not in other priming conditions. In the sad priming condition, the RT for the positive words of PIU subjects were longer than neutral and negative words. In other priming conditions, there was no significant difference between the RT of two groups.
All the subjects chose the positive words most and the negative least, which showed a cognitive choose tendency of which is “happy approach and pain avoidance”. The PIU group chose less positive words but more negative words than the non-PIU group,. In the happy priming condition, the choice of negative words was increased for all the subjects ,but in sad priming condition , the choice of positive words was increased. In the condition of sadness priming, PIU students chose less positive words and more negative words than non-PIU students. All the subjects chose positive words most quickly, and negative words most slowly. Compared with the non-PIU students, PIU students chose positive words more slowly, negative words and the neutral words more quickly. The RT of both groups was longest in the condition of happy priming, least in the sadness priming. In the condition of the happy priming, the RT of PIU subjects were shorter than non-PIU subjects, but the opposite in the sadness condition. In the condition of sad priming, the PIU student spent more time choosing the positive words and less time choosing the negative words than another group.

Key words: pathological Internet use, cognitive processing, college students