Are There Two Types of Escapism? Exploring a Dualistic Model of Escapism in Digital Gaming and Online Streaming

  • Beate Wold Hygen
  • Frode Stenseng
  • Jonas Falch-Madsen
Publisert i
Psychology of Popular Media
Escapism is predominantly assumed to be a negative aspect of media consumption. However, research also indicates that escapism may spur positive psychological outcomes. Here, using a 2-dimensional model of escapism and its corresponding scale, we tested a dualistic approach to escapism in relation to both gaming and online streaming. Data were collected from 2 separate Web-based questionnaires. Study 1 comprised 126 dedicated gamers, whereas Study 2 comprised 191 university students regularly using streaming services. Results showed that the Escapism scale—with its 2 dimensions, Self-Expansion and Self-Suppression—demonstrated good factorial validity and internal consistency in both samples. In the gaming sample, self-expansion was related to positive psychological outcomes from gaming, whereas self-suppression was substantially overlapping with Internet gaming disorder (Ten-Item Internet Gaming Disorder Test [IGDT-10]) and negative psychological outcomes. In the streaming sample, self-expansion was related to general positive affect and approach coping, whereas self-suppression was related to avoidance coping and general negative affect, tested in a path model. Overall, results provide preliminary support for a 2-dimensional conceptualization of escapism in media engagement, here evidenced in gaming and streaming. Furthermore, results indicate that a dualistic operationalization of escapism, currently not incorporated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition, Revised, classifications of pathological gaming in may help distinguish healthy from unhealthy gaming and may also be relevant for distinguishing adaptive from maladaptive streaming.