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Mental disengagement mediates the effect of rumination on smartphone use: A latent growth curve analysis

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posted on 30.03.2021, 12:38 by Shuna Shiann KHOO, Hwajin YANGHwajin YANG

Rumination has consistently been found to predict excessive smartphone use. However, a paucity of research has examined the mechanism that underlies this relation. Drawing on relevant theoretical accounts, we examined whether specific coping functions that can be fulfilled through smartphones—i.e., mental disengagement, problem-focused, and socioemotional coping—mediate, in parallel, the positive link between rumination and smartphone use. Using latent growth curve and structural equation modeling (N = 217), we found that only mental disengagement fully mediated the link between rumination and the intercept (i.e., initial baseline levels) of smartphone use, which was objectively quantified using screen time monitoring applications installed on smartphones. In addition, although rumination directly predicted the slope (i.e., longitudinal changes) of smartphone use, the indirect effects of rumination on the slope via the three coping functions did not reach significance. Our findings highlight the importance of a specific coping function—i.e., mental disengagement—via smartphones in explaining the complex relation between rumination and smartphone overuse. Further, our study underscores several methodological advances in studying smartphone use.


Ministry of Education, Singapore under its Academic Research Funding Tier 1


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Computers in Human Behavior




School of Social Sciences