The Association of Motives with Problematic Smartphone Use : a Systematic Review

Beau Mostyn Sullivan, Amanda George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
420 Downloads (Pure)


Motives for smartphone use may be key factors underlying problematic smartphone
use (PSU). However, no study has reviewed the literature investigating the association
of motives with PSU. As such, we conducted a systematic review to: (a) determine which
smartphone use motives were associated with PSU; and (b) examine the potential
indirect and moderating effects of motives in the relationship of psychosocial factors
with PSU. We identified 44 studies suitable for inclusion in our systematic review. There
was extensive heterogeneity in smartphone use motives measures across the studies,
including 55 different labels applied to individual motives dimensions. Categorisation
of these motives based on their definitions and item content identified seven motives
that were broadly assessed across the included studies. Motives which reflected
smartphone use for mood regulation, enhancement, self-identity/conformity, passing
time, socialising, and safety were generally positively associated with PSU. There were
indirect effects of depression, anxiety, and transdiagnostic factors linked to both
psychopathologies on PSU via motives, particularly those reflecting mood regulation.
Stress and anxiety variously interacted with pass-time, social, and a composite
of enhancement and mood regulation motives to predict PSU. However,
the heterogeneity in the measurement of smartphone use motives made it difficult
to determine which motives were most robustly associated with PSU. This highlights
the need for a valid and comprehensive smartphone use motives measure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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