The Relationship between Internet Addiction and Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory in Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Emotional Insecurity and Emotional Flexibility

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine a hypothesized model which considers the role of neuro-psychological components (brain-behavioral systems) and emotional insecurity and emotional flexibility in Internet addiction.
Method:  The design of the present study was descriptive-correlational and structural equation modelling. The statistical population of the study included Iranian adolescents who lived in Shiraz in 2021. Among them, 587 adolescents (318 girls and 269 boys) were selected by cluster sampling method. Subjects filled Jackson's five-factor scale, Young's Internet addiction, emotional flexibility, and emotional insecurity questionnaires. After data collection, the relationship between variables was examined using SPSS and Lisrel software. 
Results: The findings suggest that the Behavioral Approach System (BAS) neither directly nor indirectly had a significant correlation (P> 0.05) with Internet addiction; the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) is only directly related to addiction to the Internet (P <0.01 and b= -0.18), and finally the Fight-Flight-Freeze System (FFFS) is directly (P <0.01 and b= 0.29); and indirectly (P <0.05 and b= 0.09) correlated with the mediating role of emotional insecurity and emotional flexibility, linked to Internet addiction.
Conclusion: Among Gray’s brain-behavioral subsystem theory, the FFFS is the strongest predictor of Internet addiction (both directly and indirectly, by influencing emotional flexibility and emotional insecurity), which may indicate that avoidance behavior plays a crucial role in Internet addiction.


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