According to a recent study that was published in Computers in Human Behavior, parents with perfectionistic views may cause their kids to react in unhelpful ways when they fail, which may increase the likelihood that they would engage in obsessive gaming activities as a result.
The research emphasizes how crucial it is to take parental factors into account when figuring out how gaming disorders emerge.
The purpose of this study, specifically in the context of gaming, was to examine how perfectionism affects people’s responses in stressful situations when cognitive competence is required.
They wanted to know how perfectionism, responses to gaming failure, and the emergence of compulsive gaming behaviors related to one another.
The study’s authors shared via PsyPost that “Prior research has provided evidence that perfectionistic parental attitudes can lead to increased sensitivity to failure, less efficient coping, higher stress, and anxiety in challenging situations. Individuals exposed to critical parental attitudes towards performance are also more likely to pursue unattainable high goals in education or work as they internalize high parental standards. We were interested in whether internalized parental perfectionism can also influence leisure activities such as video gaming and reactions to failure in games.”
Through an online survey, the researchers gathered information from 2,097 video game players from Hungary.
In order to market the study, they teamed up with the well-known gaming lifestyle publication GameStar.
To measure diverse characteristics, the researchers employed a variety of scales and questionnaires.
For this study, the researchers created a survey tool they dubbed the Reactions to Failure in Gaming Scale.
The nine factors were divided into three categories: over-engagement (rumination and self-blame), disengagement (ignorance or suppression of failure-related emotions), and constructive engagement (a balanced approach to obsession and repression of failure).
Over- and under-engagement were viewed as maladaptive reactions, whereas constructive involvement was seen as adaptive.
Using the parental expectations and criticism subscales from the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, the researchers also evaluated parental perfectionism.
On a five-point scale, participants scored claims about their parents’ high expectations and criticism (such as “My parents set very high standards for me”).
The Big Three Perfectionism Scale – Short Form was used to evaluate self-oriented perfectionism.
Rigid perfectionism, self-critical perfectionism, and narcissistic perfectionism were the three subscales that made up this scale.
On a five-point scale, participants indicated how much they agreed with each statement.
The Ten-Item Internet Gaming Disorder Test was used by the researchers to evaluate gaming disorders.
Participants responded to questions on their gaming routines and behaviors by rating their answers as “never,” “sometimes,” or “frequently.”
According to the study, higher levels of self-oriented perfectionism—the propensity to hold oneself to high standards—was linked to higher parental expectations and criticism.
Another study found a connection between parental criticism and perfectionism in one’s own behavior, suggesting that children pick up negative attitudes from their parents.
However, rigorous perfectionism, which is pursuit of high standards without being excessively self-critical, wasn’t clearly linked to parental criticism.
The researchers discovered that self-critical perfectionism and parental criticism were linked to unhelpful responses to failure in gaming.
Additionally, an indirect link between self-critical perfectionism and gaming disorder was moderated by over-engagement, indicating that self-blame and ruminating contributed to the emergence of symptoms of gaming disorder.
The researchers explained that “Our results suggest that critical parental attitudes can have a pervasive role even in an entertainment domain where direct parental aspirations of expected performance are rare. Internalized parental criticism can increase the emotional sensitivity of gamers to failure in video gaming, and ruminative responses to these experiences can considerably increase the risk of gaming addiction. These findings point out that early childhood experiences regarding parental expectations on performance can affect not only education or career pursuits but can also engagement in leisure activities.”
The research also discovered a link between disengagement and narcissistic perfectionism, which entails demanding flawless results from other people.
Constructive engagement was linked to rigid perfectionism, which refers to the pursuit of significant individual standards without self-criticism, suggesting a healthy reaction to failure.
Unlike earlier research, only narcissistic perfectionism revealed a clear connection between the gaming condition and itself.
The researchers hypothesized that in those with critical parental views and high levels of self-criticism, maintaining a positive self-image might be crucial in preventing gaming disorders.
These results imply that critical parenting styles and an excessive focus on failure might foster the development of compulsive gaming habits in children.
“We were surprised how much perfectionism and reactions to failure in gaming contributed to gaming disorder symptoms. Our findings suggest that parental criticism and rumination over failure in gaming can substantially contribute to the addictive use of video games. This information may assist in prevention efforts and screening of gaming disorder,” the authors told the same publication.
The study has several restrictions. For example, because it was rather cross-sectional in nature, cause and effect linkages cannot be established.
Even while the study discovered a connection between failure-related responses and gaming disorder, it does not follow that one inevitably results in the other one.
“The findings suggest that critical parental attitudes towards performance can be reliable precursors of later unhealthy reactions to challenging situations in video gaming, which, in turn, are associated with an increased risk of gaming addiction. However, this mechanism needs further empirical confirmation using longitudinal investigations,” the experts explained.