Rumination and negative smartphone use expectancies are associated with greater levels of problematic smartphone use: A latent class analysis

Psychiatry Res. 2020 Feb 3;285:112845. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112845. Online ahead of print.


Problematic smartphone use (PSU) is related to psychopathology symptoms, such as depression and anxiety. However, less is known about how responses to and coping with psychopathology correlate with PSU. We conducted a web survey of 286 American college students, querying depression and anxiety symptoms, rumination (a coping process to avoid negative emotion), PSU, and expectancies about smartphone use for mood alleviation. We conducted latent class analysis (LCA) of PSU symptom ratings, finding support for two latent subgroups of participants, involving mild and severe PSU, especially distinguished by severity of withdrawal symptoms. Rumination and negative smartphone use expectancies (i.e., to reduce distress) positively related to the more symptomatic PSU class. Results are discussed in context of the I-PACE theoretical model of problematic internet use (PIU). We emphasize the importance of response variables in I-PACE, such as internet-related cognitive bias and coping, over background psychopathology variables in influencing PIU and PSU.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Internet expectancies; Latent class analysis; Rumination; Smartphone use.