Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Craig A. Anderson


Research on self-determination theory has demonstrated that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs improves well-being and can thus be considered psychologically nutritious. Most of this work has focused on need satisfaction in the real world, but some studies have shown that need satisfaction experienced during video game play also leads to short-term improvements in well-being. It is not yet clear, however, how need satisfaction derived from video games compares to need satisfaction derived from real-world experiences. Can video game need satisfaction improve well-being beyond real-world need satisfaction? The present study addressed this and related questions using a two-week daily-diary study with a sample of 133 undergraduates who regularly played video games.

Multilevel models revealed that well-being was higher on days with (a) above-average levels of video game playtime (without considering need satisfaction or frustration), and (b) above-average levels of video game need satisfaction (after controlling for the satisfaction and frustration of needs in the real world). The effect of real-world need satisfaction on well-being was nearly 10 times the size of the effect of video game need satisfaction, however. This suggests that video games are psychologically nutritious, but less nutritious than need-satisfying real-world experiences. People with an obsessive passion for gaming and those with IGD symptoms also had poorer daily well-being. Separate models revealed that video game playtime was lower on days with above-average levels of real-world need frustration. People with a harmonious passion for gaming and those with IGD symptoms spent more time playing across the two weeks.


Copyright Owner

Johnie J Allen



File Format


File Size

148 pages