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Computers in
Human Behavior
Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

Factor structure for Youngs Internet

Addiction Test: A conrmatory study
Man Kit Chang *, Sally Pui Man Law
Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, School of Business Hong Kong Baptist University,
Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Available online 14 April 2008


A number of diagnostic scales have been developed in recent years to assess Internet addiction.
To better understand the structure, validity, and reliability of such assessment instruments, Youngs
Internet Addiction Test (IAT) was evaluated using a conrmatory approach.
Data collected through a survey of 410 Hong Kong university undergraduates was subjected to
exploratory factor analysis and data from a hold-out sample was analyzed using conrmatory factor
analysis in order to assess the psychometric properties and factor structure of the IAT scale. Three
dimensions, namely, Withdrawal and Social Problems, Time Management and Performance,
and Reality Substitute were extracted.
These dimensions were then correlated with a number of criterion variables, including academic
performance, online activities, gender, and Internet usage. The results show that academic perfor-
mance was negatively correlated with the Internet addiction scores. The degree of Internet addiction
was also found to vary across dierent types of online activity, with people engaged in cyberrelation-
ships and online gambling having higher Internet addiction scores.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Internet addiction; Youngs Internet Addiction Test; Conrmatory factor analysis

1. Introduction

The 21st century promises to be a digital era when technologies, especially the Internet
will have a profound inuence on daily life. The Internet has already changed our life
Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 3411 7564; fax: +852 3411 5585.
E-mail address: (M.K. Chang).

0747-5632/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2598 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

enormously, and the benets brought about by such a powerful tool are obvious to all.
Nevertheless, many studies have suggested that people may use the Internet addictively
and that this can exert harmful eects on individuals, altering their social behavior, habits
and abilities in a negative way (Chen, Tarn, & Han, 2004; Stanton, 2002; Young, 2004).
Researchers studying the problems related to Internet use have adopted dierent termi-
nologies such as Internet addiction, Internet addiction disorder, Internet dependence,
problematic Internet use, or pathological Internet use to describe the negative eects of
excessive Internet use on personal lives (Chen et al., 2004; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Davis,
2001; Goldberg, 1995; Griths, 1998; Kandell, 1998; Morahan-Martin & Schumacher,
2000; Scherer, 1997; Shaer, 1996; Young, 1998a). Young (1996) has linked excessive
Internet use to DSM-IV criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and considered
it a behavioral addiction similar to pathological gambling. She characterizes Internet
addiction as an impulse-control disorder that mainly involves psychological dependence
on the Internet (Young, 2004). Although there is no standard denition to date, the phe-
nomenon is commonly conceptualized as the compulsive behavior and cognitions associ-
ated with Internet use which results in marked distress in daily life (Caplan, 2002; Shapira,
Goldsmith, Keck, Khosla, & McElroy, 2000; Young, 1996).
Increased interest in Internet addiction has prompted the development of instruments
like the Internet Addiction Test (Young, 1998a), the Pathological Internet Use scale (Mor-
ahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000), and the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale
(Caplan, 2002) for assessing Internet use behavior. To better understand the phenomenon,
it is crucial to establish the validity and reliability of such instruments. This study
attempted to evaluate one of the instruments: Youngs (1998a) Internet Addiction Test
Young and her associates have done a lot of work on dening Internet addiction (Yel-
lowlees & Marks, 2007), and the IAT is one of the early diagnostic scales that has been
developed. Although the IAT was developed ten years ago, it is still employed in recent
studies to investigate important phenomena such as the relationship between dierent
kinds of addictions (Pallanti, Bernardi, & Quercioli, 2006), psychiatric comorbidity (Ha
et al., 2006; Yang, Choe, Baity, Lee, & Cho, 2005), and other correlates with Internet
addiction (Ferraro, Caci, DAmico, & Di Blasi, 2007; Li & Chung, 2006).
The IAT has demonstrated strong internal reliability across studies (e.g., Widyanto &
McMurran, 2004; Yang, 2001; Yang et al., 2005; Young, 1998a). While the overall reli-
ability of the IAT scale as measured by Cronbachs alpha has been good in these stud-
ies, there is a paucity of research that assesses the factor structure of the IAT, and thus
analyzes Internet addiction as a multi-dimensional construct. Dimensionality assessment
is important because the denition of instrument structure is a prerequisite to subse-
quent instrument renement and failure to identify the dimensionality of the scale
may lead to inaccurate specications of theories (Smith & McCarthy, 1995). Moreover,
the subscales can provide a greater level of detail than just utilizing Internet addiction
as one overall concept. For instance, people may suer dierent severity of negative
impacts in dierent aspects of Internet addiction. Knowing this helps us to focus treat-
ments on the area that requires special attention. Consequently, the factor scores can
provide information beyond that obtained from the global score of the entire scale
(Floyd & Widaman, 1995).
Despite its importance, at the time of our study, only one study with a small sample size
of 86 participants could be found to investigate the dimensionality of the IAT (Widyanto
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2599

& McMurran, 2004). Hence, the present study aimed to examine, rene and validate the
dimensionality of the IAT instrument using a conrmatory approach.

2. Prior research

Over the years, researchers have devised dierent kinds of measurements to operation-
alize the concept of Internet addiction and related concepts (see Appendices A and B).
Some of these measurements were built upon the ideas of mental disorder, with items
adapted from the diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association,
1994), whereas others were based on certain theoretical perspectives like the cognitive-
behavioral model (Davis, 2001). Besides, there are others which were developed from
case studies, experts opinions or published literature on the symptoms of Internet
Most assessment tools developed in the early stages were based on the behavioral cri-
teria for substance abuse or substance dependence in the DSM-IV. They were usually
designed as a set of diagnostic criteria or checklists to describe the phenomenon of Internet
addiction and distinguish people having Internet-related addictive behaviors (Chou, Con-
dron, & Belland, 2005). Some of these examples include Goldbergs (1995) Internet addic-
tion disorder diagnostic criteria (IADDC), Brenners (1997) Internet-Related Addictive
Behavior Inventory (IRABI), and Scherers (1997) Clinical Symptoms of Internet Depen-
dency (CSID).
The notion of impulse-control disorder and pathological gambling is also a foundation
upon which the measurements were built. For example, borrowing from the DSM-IV cri-
teria for pathological gambling, Young (1998b) developed the Diagnostic Questionnaire
(YDQ) to survey the world-wide prevalence of Internet addiction and distinguish Internet
addicts from other Internet users. In a later study, Young (1998a) expanded her YDQ and
constructed a Likert scale assessment called the Internet Addiction Test (IAT). The IAT
scale comprises 20 items (as shown in Appendix D) which assess the severity of any neg-
ative consequences arising from excessive Internet use. These items cover an individuals
Internet use habits, his/her thoughts about the Internet as well as the related problems
of Internet use. For each item, a graded response (1 = not at all to 5 = always) can
be selected and the higher summed item scores represent higher levels of Internet
Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ) was developed on the basis similar to
that of the IAT. According to Thatcher and Goolam (2005b), the measurement items of
PIUQ were derived from the pathological gambling questionnaire (Lesieur & Blume,
1987), Youngs (1996) criteria for Internet addiction as well as published literature on
the symptoms of Internet addiction. Validating the PIUQ on a sample of online respon-
dents, Thatcher and Goolam (2005b) suggested that this instrument could measure Inter-
net addiction from three dimensions, namely, online preoccupation, adverse eects, and
social interactions.
Some researchers attempted to design the measurements rooted in theoretical perspec-
tives other than the DSM-IV criteria. For example, based on the cognitive-behavioral
model (Davis, 2001) derived from psychopathology, Davis, Flett, and Besser (2002) con-
structed the Online Cognitive Scale (OCS) to measure pathological Internet use. They per-
formed conrmatory factor analysis on a sample of university students and identied four
2600 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

dimensions (diminished impulse control; loneliness/depression; social comfort; distrac-

tion) for the OCS. Also based on the cognitive-behavioral approach, Caplan (2002) devel-
oped the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale (GPIUS) and discovered seven
dimensions (mood alteration; social benets; negative outcomes; compulsive use; excessive
time online; withdrawal; social control) for this instrument.
Moreover, there are some measurements that were developed from case studies,
experts opinions or published literature on Internet addiction, such as Grithss
(1998) Addiction Components Criteria, and the Pathological Use Scale (PUS) devised
by Morahan-Martin and Schumacher (2000). Instruments along this vein also include
those developed from a factor-analytic approach. For example, using the published lit-
erature on the common diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction, Lin and Tsai (2002)
designed the Internet addiction scale for Taiwanese high school students (IAST) and
have found four dimensions (tolerance; compulsive use and withdrawal; family, school
and health problems; interpersonal and nancial problems) for this instrument. Besides,
based on the items derived from experts opinions, Ceyhan, Ceyhan, and Gurcan (2007)
generated the Problematic Internet Usage Scale (PIUS) to assess problematic Internet
use for university students. From their results of exploratory factor analysis, they iden-
tied three dimensions (negative consequences; social benet/social comfort; excessive
use) for the PIUS.
Although the above-mentioned instruments were developed from dierent theoretical
perspectives and operationalization procedures, our analysis of the literature (see Appen-
dix C) has revealed certain similarities among the identied dimensions of Internet addic-
tion. Referring to the instruments that measure Internet addiction as a multi-faceted
construct OCS (Davis et al., 2002); GPIUS (Caplan, 2002); IAST (Lin & Tsai, 2002);
PIUQ (Thatcher & Goolam, 2005b); PIUS (Ceyhan et al., 2007), the following dimensions
are found similar across these instruments:

 Compulsive Internet use and excessive time spent online: extent of compulsive Internet
use and failure to control the amount of time spent on the Internet.
 Withdrawal symptoms: feelings of diculties, depression or moodiness when being
restricted from Internet use.
 Using the Internet for social comfort: using the Internet to seek social comfort and dis-
position toward using online social interaction to replace real-life interpersonal
 Negative consequences related to Internet use: the negative outcomes such as social,
academic, or work-related problems resulting from Internet use.

The foregoing discussion indicates that recent instrument developments have explored
the multi-dimensional nature of Internet addiction and related constructs. Although the
dimensionality of IAT has not been assessed when it was developed, Widyanto and
McMurrans (2004) study has extracted six factors salience, excess use, neglecting work,
anticipation, lack of self-control, and neglecting social life from the 20-item IAT and
found that these factors had moderate to good internal consistency (Cronbachs alphas
ranged from .54 to.82). While this study has provided some insights into the structure
of IAT, one limitation of the study was the small sample size it utilized, as only 86 partic-
ipants were recruited through the Internet to ll out the Web-based questionnaire. As
mentioned, knowing the dimensions of a measurement instrument is important; the
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2601

current study, thus, attempted to further investigate the factorial structure of IAT and
examine how the dimensions may correlate with a number of criterion variables.
Some criterion variables that have been widely studied include the amount of time peo-
ple spend online, their experience of using the Internet, the negative impacts of Internet
addiction on their performances, and the dierences in the severity of addictive behavior
between genders, or among people involved in dierent types of Internet activities.
Internet usage has been regarded as an important indicator of Internet addiction, with
many studies demonstrating a correlation between the amount of time spent online and
the risk of having addictive behaviors (Brenner, 1997; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; LaRose,
Lin, & Eastin, 2003; Leung, 2004; Liang, 2003; Lin & Tsai, 2002; Morahan-Martin &
Schumacher, 2000; Suhail & Bargees, 2006; Thatcher & Goolam, 2005a; Wang, 2001;
Young, 1998b). Yet, researchers have argued that the amount of time spent online may
not be a sucient condition to determine Internet addiction as people can use the Internet
for dierent purposes (Hansen, 2002). For example, the extent of addictive behavior could
be quite dierent for people using the Internet for work purposes and for those using it for
personal entertainment (Widyanto & McMurran, 2004).
Prior studies have also investigated whether individuals addictive behaviors will fade
out when they become more experienced in using the Internet. However, the ndings
are still inconclusive. While some researchers have found that beginners are more likely
to get addicted to the Internet than experienced users (Kraut et al., 1998; Widyanto &
McMurran, 2004; Young, 1998b), others have shown that there is no dierence between
these two groups in terms of the severity of addictive behaviors (Leung, 2004; Thatcher
& Goolam, 2005a).
Moreover, Internet addiction can interfere with ones academic performance and daily
life routines (Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Scherer, 1997; Yoo et al., 2004). Prior studies have
shown that students were vulnerable to Internet addiction and they might use the Inter-
net excessively and ignore their schoolwork (Chou, 2001; Nalwa & Anand, 2003; Tsai &
Lin, 2003). In Youngs (1998b) study, she found that the student respondents encoun-
tered work or school-related problems because they had spent too much time on the
Gender dierence is another area that has interested the researchers. Although many
studies have investigated this issue, researchers cannot reach an agreement on which gen-
der represents a high-risk group of having Internet-related addictive behaviors. While
some studies have shown that Internet addicts tended to comprise females (Leung,
2004; Young, 1998b), other ndings have indicated that males were more inclined to
develop Internet addiction than females (Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Liang, 2003; Scherer,
In addition, previous studies have demonstrated that people might not be addicted to
the Internet itself but to particular Internet activities. Research ndings showed that inter-
active functions of the Internet were related to the negative impacts of excessive Internet
use and people involved in online interactive applications tended to exhibit addictive
behaviors (Davis et al., 2002; Leung, 2004; Li & Chung, 2006). For instance, Young
(1998b) noticed that Internet addicts were attracted to the social support functions of
the Internet. Moreover, Thatcher and Goolam (2005a) found that people belonging to
the high-risk group of Internet addiction were inclined to play online interactive games
and use Internet communication tools. They also found that online gambling was one
of the favorite activities for the high-risk group.
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In the next section, the methods employed in the current study to investigate the facto-
rial structure of the IAT, and the correlations between the identied IAT dimensions and
the above-discussed criterion variables are described.

3. Method

The questionnaires used in the current study were bilingual (both English and Chinese
were shown on the questionnaires). The English and Chinese versions of the Internet
Addiction Test (IAT) were adopted from Young (1998a, 2000). Participants were also
asked to provide information on their gender, age, educational background, academic per-
formance, weekly Internet usage, Internet experience, and the type of Internet activity in
which they frequently engaged.
The participants in this study were undergraduates at eight universities in Hong Kong:
the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the Hong Kong Polytechnic
University (POLYU), the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), the City University of
Hong Kong (CITYU), Lingnan University (LU), and the Hong Kong Institute of Educa-
tion (HKIED).
Over a 6-week data collection period, 480 paper-based questionnaires were evenly dis-
tributed to the eight universities. In each university, participants were recruited in campus
libraries, canteens, computer centers and student hostels. The questionnaires were given to
students who had agreed to participate in the survey; the students were given about
20 minutes to ll out the questionnaires by themselves; and the questionnaires were then
collected from the students after they nished lling in the questionnaires.
A total of 410 usable questionnaires were returned, yielding an eective response rate of
87.5%. Among the respondents, 187 were males and 223 were females, with the number of
participants rather evenly distributed among the eight universities. (The school shares ran-
ged from 11.5% to 15.1%.) The sample included students majoring in diverse areas of
study such as philosophy, arts, law, business administration, social sciences, mathematics,
natural sciences, medicine, and computer science.

4. Analysis and results

The responses were subjected to factor analyses to examine the psychometric properties
of the Internet Addiction Test scale. The original data set (n = 410) was randomly divided
into two equal subsamples, one for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and the other for
conrmatory factor analysis (CFA). The EFA was conducted rst to identify the under-
lying structure of the IAT scale. Then, CFA was performed to validate the results of
the EFA.
Having completed the validation process, the next step in the analysis was to test
whether Internet addiction scores correlated with academic performance, Internet usage,
and Internet experience. To test if Internet addiction varied across genders and across
dierent types of Internet activities, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2603

4.1. Exploratory factor analysis

Data from the rst subsample (n = 205) were submitted to EFA to investigate the
dimensionality of the IAT scale. Principal components factor analysis with promax rota-
tion was used. The promax rotation, an oblique rotation, was used because it is reasonable
to assume that any extracted factors relevant to Internet addiction should be inter-corre-
lated. Eigenvalues and Scree plots were used to determine the number of factors to be
Initially, the full set of IAT items, i.e., all 20 items presented in Appendix D, were sub-
jected to factor analysis. Using the latent root criterion for retaining factors with Eigen-
values greater than 1.0 and the Scree plot, a four-factor structure was identied, with
the extracted factors explaining 59.3% of the total variance. However, only one item
loaded on Factor 4. That item was How often do you check your e-mail before some-
thing else that you need to do? While other items are measuring something quite general
about the use of the Internet, the item How often do you check your e-mail before some-
thing else that you need to do? is measuring the usage of a particular kind of application.
That may be the reason why it is loaded on its own factor. Since people may use the Inter-
net for dierent purposes like instant messaging and online games, combined with the fact
that email becomes an important means of communication, the item may not be a very
good indicator of Internet addiction nowadays. Therefore, this item was discarded and
the remaining 19 items were submitted to another principal component factor analysis.
The second factor analysis resulted in three factors. However, How often do you nd
yourself anticipating when you will go online again? (Q11) did not load highly on any of
these three factors and consequently was removed. The deletion of the item was based on
the empirical indicator of factor loadings. As IAT is still at the early stage of dimension-
ality assessment, empirically based item inclusion and exclusion were used in order to
enhance its reliability and validity (Smith & McCarthy, 1995). The nal factor analysis
resulted in the 18-item, three-factor structure shown in Table 1, with all factor loadings
lower than .40 suppressed. The factor solution extracted 57.1% of the variance. Given
the sample size of 205 and a .05 alpha level, a factor loading of .40 or higher was consid-
ered signicant (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, Black, & Babin, 2006). Based on such a thresh-
old, each item loaded signicantly on only one factor, except for How often do you form
new relationships with fellow online users? (Q4). Nevertheless, as Q4 loaded much more
heavily on Factor 1, this item was interpreted as belonging to Factor 1 in the subsequent

4.2. Conrmatory factor analysis

To verify the factor structure identied through EFA, CFA was performed on the hold-
out sample (n = 205) using LISREL 8.8 software. The 18 IAT items were modeled as
reective indicators of the extracted factors. Variances for the three factors were xed
to one and the factors were allowed to correlate freely in the CFA model. The maximum
likelihood approach was adopted for model estimation, with the item covariance matrix as
input data. The result is presented in Table 2.
Goodness-of-t was assessed using a number of t indices, including chi-square,
RMSEA, CFI, NNFI and SRMR. The cut-o criteria for the t indices were based on
the guidelines suggested by Hair et al. (2006). To demonstrate good t, the chi-square
2604 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

Table 1
Exploratory factor analysis for a reduced set of IAT items (Q7 and Q11 dropped)
Item number Promax-rotated loadings factor Communality
1 2 3
Q3 .69 .55
Q4 .75 .44 .52
Q5 .44 .42
Q9 .59 .61
Q13 .67 .50
Q15 .85 .62
Q18 .72 .68
Q19 .58 .50
Q20 .64 .56
Q1 .80 .61
Q2 .50 .50
Q6 .69 .66
Q8 .86 .67
Q16 .64 .61
Q17 .73 .68
Q10 .42 .49
Q12 .82 .66
Q14 .58 .45
Sum of squares (eigenvalue) 7.84 1.33 1.10 10.27
Percentage of variance explained 43.57 7.40 6.11 57.07
Factor loadings lower than .40 were suppressed.

Table 2
Results of the conrmatory factor analysis
Item number Factor
1 2 3
Q3 .68
Q4 .59
Q5 .68
Q9 .72
Q13 .67
Q15 .74
Q18 .76
Q19 .59
Q20 .76
Q1 .62
Q2 .71
Q6 .77
Q8 .72
Q16 .74
Q17 .80
Q10 .63
Q12 .55
Q14 .55
Variance extracted .48 .53 .33
Construct reliability .89 .87 .60
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2605

statistic for our measurement model normalized by degrees of freedom (v2/df) should not
exceed 3.0. Also, the values of CFI and NNFI should be .95 or higher whereas the values
of RMSEA and SRMR should not exceed .08. For the current CFA model, v2/df was 1.86
(v2 = 246.01; df = 132); the CFI was .98; the NNFI was .98; the RMSEA was .07 and the
SRMR was .05, indicating adequate model t. Further, the diagnostic measures the com-
pletely standardized loadings, standardized residuals and modication indices indicated
that no substantial improvement could be made to the model. Thus, the CFA result cross-
validated the three-factor structure devised in the exploratory factor analysis.
The convergent validity of the 18-item, three-factor model was then evaluated. Factor
loadings were high for all the IAT items and signicant at an alpha level of .05. The com-
posite reliability and average variance extracted of Factor 1 and Factor 2 showed that
these two factors exhibited adequate reliability. However, the values for Factor 3 were rel-
atively low, implying that the correlations between this factor and other variables will be
attenuated by the moderate construct reliability. Although the correlations should be
higher if we have scales that are totally reliable, this should not aect the conclusions
drawn from the results of our analysis in the later sections.
Discriminant validity was assessed using a series of chi-square dierence tests (Bollen,
1989) in which the v2 of an unconstrained CFA model (with all factors freely correlated)
was compared with that of a constrained model (with the correlation of two factors set
equal to one). Discriminant validity between the constrained pair of factors was indicated
by a signicant v2 change. According to Table 3, the chi-square dierences due to the
added constraint were all signicant, i.e., the constrained model t less well than the
unconstrained one. This implied that the three factors exhibit discriminant validity.
The correlations among the measurement model constructs were then analyzed. Table 4
shows the inter-factor correlation matrix. From the table it is clear that the three IAT fac-
tors had fairly high and signicant positive correlations (ranging from .83 to .88). This
may suggest a second-order overall factor of Internet addiction that can account for the
covariances of the rst level factors. Accordingly, a second-order factor structure was
tested and the result is shown in Fig. 1.
The second-order factor structure demonstrated an adequate t (v2/df = 1.86;
CFI = .98; NNFI = .98; RMSEA = .07 and SRMR = .05). Since the t indices for the
rst- and second-order models were almost identical, the second-order model was accepted
because it is more parsimonious (Chang, Torkzadeh, & Dhillon, 2004; Segars & Grover,
1998). Anderson and Gerbing (1988) have suggested that in order to support the appro-
priateness of the second-order model, all the factor loadings of the rst-order factors on
the second-order factor (the gamma coecients) should be high and signicant. Fig. 1
clearly shows that all the gamma values were very high and signicant, supporting the

Table 3
Chi-square tests of discriminant validity
Constrained factor covariance v2 df Dv2
None 246.01 132
Factor 1 and Factor 2 293.06 133 47.05*
Factor 1 and Factor 3 250.96 133 4.95*
Factor 2 and Factor 3 254.73 133 8.74*
p < .05.
2606 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

Table 4
IAT factor correlation matrix
Factor 1 Factor 2
Factor 2 .88*
Factor 3 .88* .83*
p < .05.


.97* .91*

Withdrawal & Time Reality

Management &
Social Problems Substitute
.68 .76
.59 .68
.72 .67 .74 .76
.59 .62 .71 .77 .72 .74 .80 .63 .55 .55

Q3 Q4 Q5 Q9 Q13 Q15 Q18 Q19 Q20 Q1 Q2 Q6 Q8 Q16 Q17 Q10 Q12 Q14

Fig. 1. Second-order measurement model for the IAT instrument.

convergent validity of the rst-order factors with respect to the second-order factor. This
implies that Internet addiction can be characterized by the conrmed three dimensions,
while an overall Internet addiction factor captures a meaning common to all the

4.3. Interpretation of the factors

On the basis of this validated factor model, the analysis proceeded to examine the con-
tent of the 18 IAT items, which then resulted in assigning the labels Withdrawal and
Social Problems, Time Management and Performance, and Reality Substitute to
the three factors respectively.
Factor 1, Withdrawal and Social Problems, captures ones degree of moodiness or
diculties when constrained to be away from the Internet (e.g., Q20: How often do
you feel depressed, moody or nervous when you are oine, which goes away once you
are back online?). This factor also includes items focusing on interpersonal problems
due to Internet use (e.g., Q13: How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone
bothers you while you are online?).
Factor 2, Time Management and Performance involves the degree of compulsive
Internet use and ones failure to control or reduce the amount of time spent online
(e.g., Q17: How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online
and fail?). It also covers academic (or, by extension, work) performance problems
(e.g., Q6: How often do your grades or school work suer because of the amount of time
you spend online?).
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2607

Factor 3, Reality Substitute mainly describes the extent to which an individual

regards the Internet environment as another reality and over-depends on it for relieving
real-life problems (e.g., Q12: How often do you fear that life without the Internet would
be boring, empty, and joyless?).
The aggregated item scores from the rened IAT instrument represent a persons over-
all Internet addiction level while the summed item score for each factor reects the severity
of addictive behavior in the corresponding area. Both the total IAT score and factor scores
were then further analyzed.

4.4. Internet addiction and other criterion variables

The scores of the three extracted factors and the total IAT score were used to analyze
the relationship between the dimensions of Internet addiction and the criterion variables
previously discussed.

4.4.1. Internet usage, Internet experience and academic performance

Correlations among the three IAT factors, total IAT score, weekly Internet usage, years
of Internet experience and academic performance were computed. As shown in Table 5, no
signicant correlation between Internet experience and Internet addiction was identied.
Weekly Internet usage was positively but weakly related to the Reality Substitute factor.
This suggests that a person who uses the Internet to substitute real-life experiences tends to
spend more time online. Academic performance was found to be negatively correlated
with all IAT factors and the total IAT score, suggesting that people who have poor aca-
demic performance also have higher levels of Internet addiction. Since this is a correla-
tional study, it is not possible to determine whether the students have poor academic
performance because they are addicted to the Internet or they are addicted because they
have poor academic performance.

4.4.2. Gender and Internet activity

Using the total IAT score and the scores of the three IAT factors as dependent vari-
ables, a 2  7 multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to test for sig-
nicant score dierences between genders and in terms of seven types of Internet activity.
Activity 1: Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc.
Activity 2: Cyberrelationship

Table 5
Correlations among Internet addiction, Internet usage, Internet experience and academic performance
Internet usage (hours/ Internet experience Academic
week) (years) performance
Withdrawal and social problems .02 .05 .26*
Time management and .02 .04 .14*
Reality substitute .13* .02 .31*
Total IAT score .05 .01 .25*
p < .05.
2608 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

Activity 3: Gaming, interactive gaming

Activity 4: Online gambling
Activity 5: Online shopping, auction
Activity 6: Information searching
Activity 7: Simply Web surng

Two additional activities, Cybersex and Others were included initially but had to
be deleted from the analysis because the sample size for each of them was lower than the
number of dependent variables.
Table 6 displays the MANOVA results. As illustrated by the multivariate and univar-
iate test results, the interaction eect was not signicant and neither was the main eect for
gender. Yet, Internet activity had a signicant main eect in terms of all the addiction
scores, both as a set and separately. This means the addiction scores vary signicantly
among the seven types of activity.
To check in what way the activities dier, a post hoc test using Tukeys HSD
method was also conducted. The homogeneous subsets resulting from the test are
shown in Table 7, with the types of activity which had no signicantly dierent Inter-
net addiction scores being grouped in the same subset column. For Time Manage-
ment and Performance, the resulted single subset shows that people encounter time
control and work performance problems to a similar degree no matter which Internet
activity they emphasize.
The Total IAT Score data show that those students willing to admit that they
engaged in cyberrelationships and online gambling had higher IAT scores than those
claiming to engage primarily in Internet communications like chat rooms or email, shop-
ping or searching for information. The Withdrawal and Social Problems mean score
was likewise higher for people claiming cyberrelationships and online gambling than for
those professing to be occupied primarily by other kinds of Internet activity. These nd-

Table 6
MANOVA tests for group dierences in levels of internet addiction
Group eect and dependent variable Statistical tests
Pillais trace (F) Univariate (F)
Gender 2.01
Withdrawal and social problems 1.08
Time management and performance 3.30
Reality substitute 0.06
Total IAT score 1.52
Internet activity 3.53*
Withdrawal and social problems 6.09*
Time management and performance 4.19*
Reality substitute 4.69*
Total IAT score 5.78*
Gender  Internet activity 1.18
Withdrawal and social problems 0.62
Time management and performance 0.66
Reality substitute 0.86
Total IAT score 0.44
p < .05.
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2609

Table 7
Homogeneous subsets resulting from Tukey HSD tests
Dependent variable and Internet activity N Subset
1 2 3
Withdrawal and social problem
Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. 176 18.24
Cyberrelationship 11 26.18
Gaming, interactive gaming 44 21.68 21.68
Online gambling 9 26.22
Online shopping, auction 14 16.86
Information searching 91 17.12
Simply Web surng 60 19.58
Time management and performance
Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. 176 17.39
Cyberrelationship 11 22.27
Gaming, interactive gaming 44 20.20
Online gambling 9 19.33
Online shopping, auction 14 16.86
Information searching 91 16.98
Simply Web surng 60 20.05
Reality substitute
Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. 176 8.86 8.86
Cyberrelationship 11 11.45
Gaming, interactive gaming 44 9.80 9.80
Online gambling 9 9.78 9.78
Online shopping, auction 14 8.50
Information searching 91 7.89
Simply Web surng 60 9.53 9.53
Total IAT score
Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. 176 44.49 44.49
Cyberrelationship 11 59.91
Gaming, interactive gaming 44 51.68 51.68 51.68
Online gambling 9 55.33 55.33
Online shopping, auction 14 42.21
Information searching 91 41.99
Simply Web surng 60 49.17 49.17 49.17
Means for groups in homogeneous subsets are displayed. Alpha level = .05.

ings show that two types of activity cyberrelationships and online gambling are partic-
ularly strongly related with high Internet addiction scores.
The post hoc tests also showed that people spending more time on cyberrelationships
scored higher on the Reality Substitute dimension than those involved in such activities
as online shopping and information searching. This implies that people engaged in cyber-
relationships are more likely to view the Internet as another reality and use their com-
puter-mediated relationships to replace social interactions in the real world.

5. Discussion and conclusions

In order to understand Internet addiction from a multi-dimensional perspective and

to explore the factor structure of its measurement instrument, the current study
2610 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

sought to explore the factor structure of Youngs Internet Addiction Test (IAT) using
a conrmatory approach. The results from factor analyses show that the IAT can be
characterized as exploring three dimensions of Internet behavior: Withdrawal and
Social Problems, Time Management and Performance Eects, and Reality
Widyanto and McMurran (2004) have previously proposed a six-factor structure for
the IAT. Their six factors were salience, excess use, neglecting work, anticipation, lack of
self-control, and neglecting social life. The results of this study suggest that a three-factor
structure is a satisfactory representation of the IAT instrument. Comparing the two fac-
tor structures, the Withdrawal and Social Problems dimension proposed here contains
items that loaded on Widyanto and McMurrans (2004) salience and neglecting social
life factors; the Time Management and Performance dimension resembles their lack
of self-control and neglecting work factors; while the Reality Substitute factor does
not have any correspondence. This dierence in factor structure may be caused by sam-
pling dierent groups of people in the respective studies. Widyanto and McMurran
(2004) recruited a sample of 86 participants with diverse backgrounds and unknown
nationalities through the Internet, whereas our sample consisted of 410 Chinese univer-
sity students. Thus, these two samples have dierent demographic and cultural back-
grounds. But this is just a speculation as we have got only two samples to compare.
For any assessment instruments, it is important to test whether the underlying dimen-
sions are invariant across dierent samples because this allows the comparison among
groups (Byrne, 1989). In order to test for the stability of IAT dimensions, more studies
should be conducted on people from dierent groups and cultures so that comparisons
can be made.
Compared with the six factors identied by Widyanto and McMurran (2004), our
results suggest that the symptoms for Internet addiction tend to cluster together more
strongly in our sample. This information can be useful in understanding the interplay
amongst various problem areas when dealing with Internet addiction. Our rst factor,
Withdrawal and Social Problems, actually comprises two blocks of items. The With-
drawal block is related to the DSM-IVs set of substance dependence criteria, while the
Social Problems block is related to its substance abuse set (American Psychiatric Asso-
ciation, 1994). These two building blocks have usually been developed as separate dimen-
sions in other measurements of Internet addiction (Cheng, Weng, Su, Wu, & Yang, 2003;
Griths, 1998). However, the results of the current study suggest that the two blocks of
items load on a single factor, demonstrating the strong interplay between withdrawal
symptoms and an individuals interpersonal problems. This might be explained by
Daviss (2001) cognitive-behavioral model of pathological internet use. He found that
people suering from Internet addiction exhibit certain withdrawal symptoms (e.g.,
defensiveness, diminished impulse control) which can distress their interpersonal relation-
ships. Although people notice that their Internet use behaviors are socially undesirable,
they fail to control them, and the frustrations encountered in their oine social life can
in turn lead to further withdrawal symptoms. As a result, Withdrawal and Social
Problems can reinforce each other and maintain a vicious cycle. Despite the fact that
these two blocks are related to dierent criteria sets in the DSM-IV, some studies have
shown that the abuse and dependence criteria measure similar latent constructs (e.g.,
Fulkerson, Harrison, & Beebe, 1999; Harrison, Fulkerson, & Beebe, 1998; Lewinsohn,
Rohde, & Seeley, 1996). This further supports the contention that Withdrawal and
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2611

Social Problems are not easily separable due to their duality, and that it is reasonable
to treat them as a single factor.
Reality Substitute is a particularly interesting dimension. This dimension reects
the phenomenon of some people using the Internet environment as a substitute and
becoming addicted. This dimension is especially specic to Internet addiction because
of the unique nature of the Internet. Many signicant activities conducted in the real
world shopping, gambling, studying, social interaction, etc. can be accomplished
through the Internet where some less desirable aspects of oine interaction, such as
the awkwardness of meeting new people, can be avoided. This might explain how peo-
ple can become addicted to the Internet in a way that encourages them to, in some
respects, live in a virtual world. Although Reality Substitute provides another direc-
tion for dening the diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction, its construct reliability is
relatively low. To enhance the validity and diagnostic utility of this dimension, future
research needs to identify a set of representative items for this dimension and validate
them empirically.
In addition to measurement validation, this study has investigated how the dimensions
of the modied IAT instrument relate to several other variables. It was found that Internet
experience was not related to any Internet addiction dimension, while Internet usage was
related only with the Reality Substitute dimension, and then only weakly. This result is
consistent with the suggestion that it is not appropriate to use solely the amount of time
spent online as the criterion for identifying Internet addicts, because people may use the
Internet for dierent purposes (Hansen, 2002). As the functions of the Internet and
Web are enhanced continuously, people are spending more and more time online to per-
form productive tasks. Thus, in the long run, it may be necessary to review the criteria
used to judge the extent of Internet addiction.
Prior studies have shown that the Internet can distract students from their work (Chou,
2001; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Hur, 2006; Scherer, 1997; Tsai & Lin, 2003; Young, 1998b). In
keeping with these ndings, the results of the present study also show a signicant negative
relationship between academic performance and the three dimensions of Internet addic-
tion. This suggests that disrupted academic performance is one of the obvious problems
related to Internet addictive behavior.
The results show that people who frequently participate in cyberrelationships and
online gambling have relatively higher Internet addiction scores in general. They dis-
play more withdrawal symptoms and experience greater social problems, as compared
with those who prefer other kinds of Internet activity. These results seem to provide
some support for the view that Internet addicts are actually dependent on rewards
associated with the Internet use that could also exist oine (Yellowlees & Marks,
Addictive behaviors are especially serious for people involved in cyberrelationships.
This group tends to substitute the real world with the online environment and thinks
that life without the Internet is empty and joyless. Consistent with the results of pre-
vious studies (Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2003; Caplan, 2002; Li & Chung,
2006; Lin & Tsai, 2002), these results indicate that the social support oered by a
cyberrelationship can lead to more severe addictive behavior. The anonymity of online
communication helps ensure that people who seek social contact from the Internet are
not necessarily subject to any social consequences in real-life: if an individual oends
someone on the Internet, he/she can simply change online identities and start another
2612 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619

relationship. Although this clearly might help people fulll interpersonal needs, heavy
reliance on it can make them fail in oine social encounters. For example, people who
get used to the virtual context may nd it dicult to get along with others without the
anonymity of online social interactions, because they can no longer change their iden-
tities when they face an unsatisfactory relationship. Feeling frustrated in real-life social
contacts, they might prefer to turn back to cyberrelationships and treat them as a
Gambling is another activity which plays an important role in the development of Inter-
net addiction. This raises the possibility of escalated addiction due to the interaction
between pathological gambling and Internet addiction. Gambling in itself is a challenging
yet rewarding activity, as it provides people a sense of mastery by requiring them to master
a changing bet outcome. The Internet oers gambling opportunities without time or geo-
graphical restrictions, and this may result in higher levels of both gambling and Internet
addiction. With the growing number of online casinos, people are now facing ample gam-
bling opportunities. Thus, future research should pay attention to the interplay between
pathological gambling and the Internet as this may help to inform the proper and early
Results of this study should be interpreted in the context of its limitations. First,
the data in our study were collected from Chinese students and thus the results may
not be generalized to the Internet users from other groups and cultures. However,
since students represent one of the groups that are vulnerable to both substance
and non-substance addictions (Pallanti et al., 2006), they may be at high risk for
developing problematic Internet use (Pallanti et al., 2006; Yellowlees & Marks,
2007). Along with the fact that the IAT has been used in the research on Internet
addiction targeting students (e.g., Pallanti et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2005), it is prac-
tical to understand the psychometric properties of the IAT for this group. Second,
we recognize that the data used in this study were cross-sectional, with the level of
Internet addiction being measured at one point rather than as it was emerging. The
development of addictive behavior is an ongoing process whose proper delineation
requires a time dimension. Third, this study focused on the relationship between
Internet addiction and the criterion variables without addressing the possibility that
these variables might inuence one another as the addictive behavior develops.
Finally, collecting the questionnaires directly from the students might aect the par-
ticipants disclosure of some sensitive information. Thus, a social desirability scale
may be added to the questionnaire in the future studies to check this aspect of
the response.
Despite these limitations, the implications drawn from the results extend the under-
standing of Internet-related addictive behavior and provide a good basis for future
research. More studies on the structure of Internet addiction can enhance our understand-
ing of the phenomenon and the characteristics of the measurement instruments. Future
studies of a similar nature can be conducted using dierent groups of people so that the
validity and the reliability of IAT can be evaluated. Moreover, the reality-substitute eect
of the Internet is an area worth of further investigation.
Appendix A
Instruments designed to measure Internet addiction without specifying the dimensions

Reference Instrument Basis Initial sample Rating Diagnosis


M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619
Goldberg (1995) Internet addiction Items adapted from the Not reported Seven Individuals fullling three or more of the
disorder diagnostic substance-dependence criteria of diagnostic seven criteria (at any time during a twelve
criteria (IADDC) DSM-IV criteria month period) are considered as having
Internet addiction disorder
Brenner (1997) Internet-Related Items adapted from the 563 online survey 32 true Not clearly dened
Addictive Behavior substance-abuse criteria of DSM- respondents false items
Inventory (IRABI) IV
Scherer (1997) Clinical Symptoms of Items adapted from the 531 university students 10 true Individuals who answer positively to
Internet Dependency substance-abuse and substance- false items three or more of the 10 items are
(CSID) dependence criteria of DSM-IV considered as Internet-dependent
Young (1998b) Youngs Diagnostic Items adapted from the DSM-IV 496 online survey Eight Individuals who answer positively to ve
Questionnaire (YDQ) criteria for pathological gambling respondents truefalse or more of the eight items are considered
items as Internet addicts
Young (1998a) Internet Addiction Items developed and expanded Not reported 20-item Individuals are grouped according to the
Test (IAT) from the original version of Likert following cut-o scores:
YDQ, which is initially based on 2039 points  an average online user
the DSM-IV criteria for who has complete control over his/her
pathological gambling Internet usage;
4069 points  signies frequent
problems due to Internet usage;
70100 points  signicant problems are
caused by Internet addiction
Griths (2000) Addiction Items adapted from published Five case studies of Six Individuals having behaviors that meet
components criteria literature about the common excessive computer diagnostic the six criteria are dened as functionally
components of behavioral usage criteria addictive
Morahan-Martin Pathological Use Items developed from the 277 university students 13 true Individuals who answer positively to four
and Scale (PUS) negative consequences of Internet false items or more of the 13 items are considered as
Schumacher use: academic, work or pathological Internet users
(2000) interpersonal problems, distress,
tolerance symptoms, and mood-
altering use of the Internet

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619
Appendix B
Instruments designed to measure Internet addiction as a multi-faceted construct

Reference Instrument Basis Extracted dimensions and their denitions Initial sample Rating scale
Lin and Internet  Based on published literature 1. Tolerance: how subjects perceive less satisfac- 615 Taiwanese high 29-item Likert
Tsai addiction about common diagnostic tion from spending the same amount of time school students
(2002) scale for criteria for Internet addiction or using the same Internet applications com-
Taiwanese  Items developed from four pared to previously
high school aspects: 2. Compulsive use and withdrawal: the degree
students 1. Tolerance of compulsive Internet use and the degree
(IAST) 2. Compulsive use of depression or moodiness if use is restricted
3. Withdrawal 3. Family, school and health problems: the
4. Related problematic problems resulting from Internet use, focus-
consequences ing on family interaction, learning, and per-
sonal health
4. Interpersonal and nancial problems: the
problems resulting from Internet use, focus-
ing on peer relationships and nancial
Davis Online  Based on Daviss (2001) cog- 1. Diminished impulse control: obsessive cogni- 211 undergraduate 36-item Likert
et al. Cognition nitive-behavioral model of tions about the Internet and an inability to students
(2002) Scale (OCS) pathological Internet use reduce Internet use despite the desire to do so
 Items derived from published 2. Loneliness/depression: feelings of worthless-
literature about the symptoms ness and depressive cognitions related to
of problematic Internet use the Internet
(particularly focused on cog- 3. Social comfort: feelings of safety and security
nitions rather than behav- in being a part of the online social network
iors), and also adapted from 4. Distraction: using the Internet as an activity
related measures of procrasti- of avoidance in order to distract oneself from
nation, depression, impulsiv- a stressful event, task, or stream of thought
ity, and pathological
Line missing
Caplan Generalized  Based on Daviss (2001) cog- 1. Mood alteration: an individual using the 386 undergraduate 29-item Likert
(2002) Problematic nitive-behavioral model of Internet in order to facilitate some change in students
Internet Use pathological Internet use negative aective states
Scale  Items developed from three 2. Social benets: an individuals perceived
(GPIUS) aspects: social benets of Internet use

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619
1. Cognitions (withdrawal, social 3. Negative outcomes: personal, social, and
benets, and social control) professional problems resulting from ones
2. Behavior (excessive use, mood Internet use
alteration, and compulsivity) 4. Compulsive use: an inability to control,
3. Negative consequences reduce, or stop online behavior, along with
feelings of guilt about time spent online
5. Excessive time online: the degree to which
one feels that he or she spends an excessive
amount of time online or even loses track
of time when using the Internet
6. Withdrawal: the diculties with staying away
from the Internet
7. Social control: individuals perceived increase
in social control when interacting with others
Thatcher Problematic Items derived from: 1. Online preoccupation: ones thinking about  279 online for pilot 20-item Likert
and Internet Use  Pathological gambling being online or wanting to spend more time  1795 online for vali-
Goolam Questionnaire questionnaire online dation sample
(2005b) (PIUQ)  Youngs criteria for Internet 2. Adverse eects: negative outcomes
addiction experienced by one as a result of his/her
 Published literature on symp- online activities
toms of Internet addiction 3. Social interactions: ones using the Internet
for social interaction activities
Ceyhan Problematic A draft measuring instrument 1. Negative consequences 1658 university students 33-item Likert
et al. Internet consisting of 59 items was formed 2. Social benet/social comfort
(2007) Usage Scale to experts opinions and 3. Excessive use
(PIUS) suggestions

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619
Appendix C
Similarity of dimensions across measurements

Measurement Extracted dimensions for the measurement

OCS (Davis, 2001)  Diminished impulse  Loneliness/Depression  Social comfort  Distraction
GPIUS (Caplan, 2002)  Compulsive use  Withdrawal  Social benets  Mood alteration  Negative outcomes
 Excessive time online  Social control
IAST (Lin and Tsai, 2002)  Tolerance  Compulsive  Family, school and
 Compulsive use and use and withdrawal health problems
withdrawal  Interpersonal and
nancial problems
PIUQ (Thatcher and  Online preoccupation  Social interactions  Adverse eects
Goolam, 2005b)
PIUS (Ceyhan et al., 2007)  Excessive use  Social benet/Social  Negative consequences
M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 25972619 2617

Appendix D
Full set of items in IAT scale

No. Details of items

Q1 How often do you nd that you stay online longer than you intended?
Q2 How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?
Q3 How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy/relationships with your partner/
Q4 How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users?
Q5 How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?
Q6 How often do your grades or school work suer because of the amount of time you spend online?
Q7 How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?
Q8 How often does your job performance or productivity suer because of the Internet?
Q9 How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do online?
Q10 How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?
Q11 How often do you nd yourself anticipating when you will go online again?
Q12 How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless?
Q13 How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online?
Q14 How often do you lose sleep due to late-night logins?
Q15 How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when oine, or fantasize about being online?
Q16 How often do you nd yourself saying just a few more minutes when online?
Q17 How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail?
Q18 How often do you try to hide how long youve been online?
Q19 How often do you choose to spend more time online over going out with others?
Q20 How often do you feel depressed, moody or nervous when you are oine, which goes away once you are
back online?


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