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Type: Thesis
Title: The Dynamics of Self-Regulation Model in the Domain of Problematic Internet Usage: Can Commitment and Progress Frameworks Help Regulate Problematic Internet Use?
Author: Dunbar, David William
Issue Date: 2021
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: Problematic Internet Usage (PIU) is a growing public health concern and despite an upsurge in research, there is limited information regarding effective psychological interventions. PIU has been shown to be associated with many adverse life outcomes and psychosocial disorders such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, social anxiety, eating disorders, sleep problems, relationship and family breakdowns. PIU interventions are yet to show strong evidence of efficacy or effectiveness. In order to gain control over PIU individuals need to self-regulate their behaviours. The Dynamics of Self-Regulation model may provide a useful framework for developing psychological interventions for PIU. The model has mainly been tested in consumer and marketing research and has yet to be applied in a clinical domain. The model explains and predicts how opposite behaviour outcomes can be achieved by holding commitment or progress frameworks. In a series of five studies, the research project tested the dynamics of self-regulation model in the domain of PIU. The first study tested a single component of presentation format. Actions can be presenting choices together (so that they appear to complement each other) or apart (so that they appear to compete against each other). Results suggested that the theory is applicable to the PIU domain, with participants forming mental frameworks and indicating their perceived behaviour values in directions predicted by the theory. The second, third and fourth studies took additional components of the model: questions about commitment or progress, high versus low engagement of goals, and abstract goals versus concrete goal actions. Asking questions about commitment or progress is enough to prime those frameworks leading to the opposite behavioural effects. Highly engaged individuals are certain of their commitment and therefore tend to focus on their progress (forming a progress frame), whereas lower engaged individuals tend to worry if they are committed or not (forming a commitment frame). Focusing on the concrete steps to achieve a goal gets individuals to concentrate on their progress whereas focusing on the high-level goal emphasises their commitment to the goal. Results from these studies also supported the model. Commitment and progress frameworks were able to be primed and participants then valued perceived behaviour choices in directions as predicted by the model. In the final study, an online randomised control trial was conducted over 21 days to test an intervention constructed using the previously tested components of the model. The study measured daily personal Internet hours and used a population of individuals who met criteria for PIU, according to the Internet Addiction Test (IAT). Results showed that, after 21 days, participants in the experimental group had reduced their daily personal Internet hours significantly more than the active control group, who employed self-monitoring. In addition, one third of participants in the experimental group reduced their IAT scores to below clinical cut-off scores for PIU. The research suggests that the framework may provide a promising approach to regulate problematic Internet use leading to a reduction of PIU and a lessening in subsequent negative life outcomes for individuals.
Advisor: Proeve, Michael
Roberts, Rachel
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2020
Keywords: Self-regulation
problematic internet usage
dynamics of self-regulation
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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