The relationship between mental well-being and dysregulated gaming: A specification curve analysis of core and peripheral criteria in five gaming disorder scales

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Description: Gaming disorder (also known as dysregulated gaming) has received significant research and policy attention based on concerns that certain patterns of play are associated with decreased mental well-being and/or functional impairment. In this study, we use specification curve analysis to examine analytical flexibility and the strength of the relationship between dysregulated gaming and well-being in the form of general mental health, depressive mood, and life satisfaction. Dutch and Flemish participants (n = 424) completed five unique dysregulated gaming measures (covering nine scale variants) and three well-being measures. We find a consistent negative relationship; across 972 justifiable regression models, the median standardized regression coefficient was --0.40 (min: --0.54, max: --0.19). Data show that the majority of dysregulated gaming operationalizations converge upon highly similar estimates of well-being (i.e. have similar concurrent validity). However, variance is introduced by the choice of well-being measure; results indicate that dysregulated gaming is more strongly associated with depressive mood than with life satisfaction. Weekly gametime accounted for little to no unique variance in well-being in the sample. We argue that research on this topic should compare a broad range of functional and well-being outcomes, and work to identify a maximally parsimonious of dysregulated gaming criteria. Given somewhat minute differences between dysregulated gaming scales when used in survey-based studies and largely equivalent relationships with mental health indicators, harmonization of measurement should be a priority.

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Data orgin This project works on the basis of the dataset derived from the Gameadviesopmaat 2.0 Project, orginally funded by the Dutch public-health research organization ZonMW, project #531004006. Citation for the original data and project: Van Rooij, Antonius J. (2019) Project Gameadviesopmaat 2.0 data (Tailored Game Advice), https://dataverse.nl/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.34894/FMR1WG

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