Chinese university students’ loneliness and generalized pathological Internet use: A longitudinal cross-lagged analysis

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Zhe Jia
Yingying Wang
Yujuan Yang
Lijun Yang
Cite this article:  Jia, Z., Wang, Y., Yang, Y., & Yang, L. (2018). Chinese university students’ loneliness and generalized pathological Internet use: A longitudinal cross-lagged analysis. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 46(5), 861-870.


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We examined the reciprocal relationship between loneliness and generalized pathological Internet use (GPIU) with a sample of 361 (141 men and 220 women, Mage = 18.47 years) university freshmen in China. A fully cross-lagged panel design was used, in which loneliness and GPIU were assessed at 3 time points. The results were as follows: (a) GPIU had a higher level of stability than did loneliness, and (b) the relationship between loneliness and GPIU was dynamic and bidirectional. Specifically, loneliness positively predicted GPIU across time, GPIU at Time 2 (3 months after initial measurement) positively predicted loneliness at Time 3 (6 months after initial measurement), and the link between baseline loneliness and Time 3 loneliness was mediated by increased GPIU at Time 2. Our findings have implications for the treatment and prevention of GPIU in university freshmen.

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