Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Lewin, Michael


Our increasingly technology-driven society has seen a dramatic increase in reports of problematic video gaming. Emerging evidence suggests that psychological distress and avoidance lead to problematic internet use in psychologically vulnerable individuals (Burleigh et al., 2017; Rapinda et al., 2021; Yang et al., 2021). There is also evidence that this process is associated with psychological inflexibility and emotion dysregulation, which are two psychological mechanisms thought to be predictive of maladaptive coping. (Chou et al., 2017; Blasi et al., 2019). Although existing evidence points to a role of uncontrolled processes in maladaptive behavior, psychological mechanisms in which distressed individuals specifically develop problematic gaming are under researched. We expanded on this research by investigating the role of inflexible and uncontrolled responses to adversity in problematic video gaming. Specifically, we hypothesized that psychological distress and loneliness would predict problematic video gaming, and these relationships would be mediated by psychological inflexibility and emotion dysregulation. We conducted online surveys to measure these states and processes in a sample of 200 undergraduate students. We found that psychological inflexibility but not emotion dysregulation mediated the relationship between psychological distress/loneliness and problematic gaming. Clinical and theoretical implications of findings are discussed to inform efforts to prevent, treat, and classify excessive gaming behavior.