Effects of use motivations and alexithymia on smartphone addiction: Mediating role of insecure attachment

Xinquan JIN, Qiang JIANG, Weiyan XIONG, Wei ZHAO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Background and objectives: Concern exists regarding the potential negative consequences of smartphone addiction among adolescents. This study investigated the effect of use motivations and alexithymia on smartphone addiction among adolescents with two insecure attachment styles, namely, anxious and avoidant attachment. These attachment styles were regarded as mediating variables. 

Methods: Self-report measures were used to assess use motivations, alexithymia, insecure attachment and smartphone addiction. Data were collected from 748 junior high school students (382 males and 366 females) in northeastern China. Structural equation modeling was used to test our hypothesis that use motivations and alexithymia are directly associated with smartphone addiction and also through the mediation of attachment insecurities. 

Results: The structural equation modeling results showed a strong and positive correlation between use motivation and smartphone addiction, with avoidant attachment mediating such a relationship. Meanwhile, the two components of alexithymia, difficulty identifying feelings and externally oriented thinking, positively predicted smartphone addiction, with avoidant attachment serving as a mediator of this effect. In addition, the mediation analysis results demonstrated that attachment anxiety mediated the connection between escape drive, extrinsically focused thought, and smartphone addiction. 

Conclusion: Findings describe how attachment insecurities, smartphone use motivations, and alexithymia can interact with one another to predict smartphone addiction. Smartphone use motivation types and alexithymia symptoms should be taken into consideration when designing targeted intervention programs for smartphone addiction to address the different attachment needs of adolescents, which would be helpful to reduce their smartphone addiction behaviors. Copyright © 2023 Jin, Jiang, Xiong and Zhao.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1227931
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


Jin, X., Jiang, Q., Xiong, W., & Zhao, W. (2023). Effects of use motivations and alexithymia on smartphone addiction: Mediating role of insecure attachment. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, Article 1227931. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1227931


  • Smartphone addiction
  • Use motivations
  • Alexithymia
  • Insecure attachment
  • Adolescents


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