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Abstract

Background and aims

Previous studies have reported that stronger avatar identification and negative self-concept are associated with gaming disorder (GD). This study aimed to examine the value and significance of avatars based on firsthand accounts from regular and problematic gamers, and to identify any potential links between avatar-related experiences and excessive gaming.

Methods

An online survey of 993 adult gamers yielded 3,972 text responses. Qualitative analysis of 59,059 words extracted 10 categories of avatar-related perspectives.

Results

Some problem and non-problem gamers employed sentimental language (e.g., ‘dear friend’, ‘like a child’, ‘part of my soul’) to refer to their avatar. However, most participants perceived avatars as a means of achieving in-game goals and enabling greater interactivity (e.g., socializing). When asked to reflect on hypothetically losing their avatar, participants generally anticipated feeling temporary frustration or annoyance due to lost time and effort invested into the avatar. Although some participants reported that their avatar ‘mattered’, avatars were often considered as superficial (‘just pixels’) and peripheral to the primary reinforcement of achieving in-game rewards and objectives. Some broader psychological and identity issues such as gender dysphoria, rather than ‘addiction’, were cited as motivating persistent avatar-related interactions and attachment.

Discussion and conclusions

Participants reported diverse views on the psychological value and function of avatars, but the relationship between avatars and problematic gaming or GD was largely unclear or inconsistent, and refuted by some participants. Future research with clinical samples may lead to a better understanding of player-avatar processes, including whether avatar-stimuli facilitate the development of maladaptive gaming habits, particularly among psychologically vulnerable players. Future investigations should be mindful of ‘overpathologizing’ avatar-related phenomena and recognize their important role in socializing, storytelling, and creative expression among gamers.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Few studies have assessed the epidemiology of hallucinogenic substance use among racial and ethnic groups of varying age cohorts. Use of psychedelic substances may differ among people of color (POC), due to factors such as stigma and discriminatory drug enforcement practices against POC. The lack of inclusion of POC in psychedelic research further underscores the importance of identifying differences in use among racial/ethnic groups and age cohorts.

Methods

Data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) was used for this analysis (N = 56,313, unweighted), representative of the non-institutionalized U.S. population. Proportions of lifetime hallucinogen use by race/ethnicity were compared. Proportions of past year rates of use were compared to examine differences by race/ethnicity and age cohort.

Results

Approximately 15.9% of the U.S. population over 12 had used a hallucinogen at some point in their lifetime and 2.0% had used in the past year. Lifetime hallucinogen use was most prevalent among non-Hispanic White and multi-racial individuals, while Black/African Americans reported the lowest rates of use. White and multi-racial groups also reported the highest proportions of past year use among 12–34 year olds, and White individuals reported the highest proportions among 35–49 year olds. Hispanic individuals reported higher proportions of use among the 12–17 cohort, but lower proportions among the 26–49 year old cohorts. Black/African Americans reported the lowest rates of past year use among the 12–25 year old cohorts. 50+ and older cohorts reported the lowest rates of hallucinogen use in the past year.

Limitations

Data is cross-sectional and self-reported. “Race” is a social construction is subject to change over time, and NSDUH ethnoracial categories are limited. Institutionalized populations are not included in the study.

Conclusions

Significant differences in hallucinogen use among ethnoracial groups by substance and age cohorts were observed. Findings from this work may inform education, interventions, and therapeutic psychedelic research.

Open access

Abstract

The choice between the subject and the object approaches and their combination is one of the challenges designers of innovation surveys face. Although it is encouraged by the Oslo manual, the combined use of these two approaches is rare. The paper presents a large scale education sector innovation survey using these approaches simultaneously in a matched employer/employee data collection with a special focus on small innovations initiated at grassroots level.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Susumu Higuchi, Yoneatsu Osaki, Aya Kinjo, Satoko Mihara, Masaki Maezono, Takashi Kitayuguchi, Takanobu Matsuzaki, Hideki Nakayama, Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, and John B. Saunders

Abstract

Background and Aims

A definition of gaming disorder (GD) was introduced in ICD-11. The purpose of this study was to develop a short screening test for GD, utilizing a reference GD group. It also sought to estimate the prevalence of GD among individuals, representative of the general young population in Japan.

Methods

Two hundred eighty one men and women selected from the general population, aged between 10 and 29 years, and 44 treatment seekers at our center completed a self-reported questionnaire comprising candidate questions for the screening test. The reference group with ICD-11 GD was established, based on face-to-face interviews with behavioral addiction experts, using a diagnostic interview instrument. The questions in the screening test were selected to best differentiate those who had GD from those who did not, and the cutoff value was determined using the Youden index.

Results

A nine-item screening test (GAMES test) was developed. The sensitivity and specificity of the test were both 98% and the positive predictive value in the study sample was 91%. The GAMES test comprised two factors, showed high internal consistency and was highly reproducible. The estimated prevalence of GD among the general young population was 7.6% (95% confidence interval; 6.6–8.7%) for males and 2.5% (1.9–3.2%) for females, with a combined prevalence of 5.1% (4.5–5.8%).

Discussion and Conclusion

The GAMES test shows high validity and reliability for screening of ICD-11 GD. The estimated prevalence of 5.1% among the general young population was comparable to the pooled estimates of young people globally.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Several behaviors, besides consumption of psychoactive substances, produce short-term reward that may lead to persistent aberrant behavior despite adverse consequences. Growing evidence suggests that these behaviors warrant consideration as nonsubstance or “behavioral” addictions, such as pathological gambling, internet gaming disorder and internet addiction.

Case presentation

Here, we report two cases of behavioral addictions (BA), compulsive sexual behavior disorder for online porn use and internet gaming disorder. A 57-years-old male referred a loss of control over his online pornography use, started 15 years before, while a 21-years-old male university student reported an excessive online gaming activity undermining his academic productivity and social life. Both patients underwent a high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) protocol over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC) in a multidisciplinary therapeutic setting. A decrease of addictive symptoms and an improvement of executive control were observed in both cases.

Discussion

Starting from these clinical observations, we provide a systematic review of the literature suggesting that BAs share similar neurobiological mechanisms to those underlying substance use disorders (SUD). Moreover, we discuss whether neurocircuit-based interventions, such as rTMS, might represent a potential effective treatment for BAs.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Social-networks-use disorder is discussed as a potential further type of disorders due to addictive behaviors. Theoretical models assume cue-induced craving and disadvantageous decision making to be relevant mechanisms. This study investigates if the presentation of social-networks-related cues interferes with decision making under ambiguity.

Methods

Craving was induced with a cue-reactivity paradigm and assessed with a visual analogue scale. Participants (N = 146) played a modified Iowa Gambling Task with social-networks-related cues and neutral cues presented on the advantageous and disadvantageous decks respectively, or vice versa. Symptoms of social-networks-use disorder were measured with a modified version of the short Internet Addiction Test.

Results

Overall, participants chose options with neutral cues more often than those with social-networks-related cues, even if it was disadvantageous. There was a significant interaction between decision-making performance and Iowa Gambling Task condition in predicting symptom severity. The results indicate that choosing decks with social-networks-related cues even if it was disadvantageous is associated with higher tendencies towards a social-networks-use disorder. The interaction with cue-induced craving did not explain further variance.

Discussion and Conclusions

The results highlight the relevance of cue reactivity, decision making, and their interaction as potential mechanisms explaining tendencies towards a social-networks-use disorder. Decision making was influenced by affective responses, which could result in a higher risk of a potential addictive behavior. This is consistent with the findings from addiction research and with theoretical approaches assuming an imbalance between affective and cognitive processes in addictive behaviors.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Sarah E. Nelson, Timothy C. Edson, Eric R. Louderback, Matthew A. Tom, Alessandra Grossman, and Debi A. LaPlante

Abstract

Background and aims

Online sports wagering is a popular and still growing gambling activity around the world. Like other types of gambling, it can lead to problems that include devastating financial, social, and health-related harms. The first analysis of actual online sports wagering activity (LaBrie et al., 2007) suggested that levels of financial and time involvement were more moderate than anticipated from earlier self-report studies. However, these findings are now more than a decade old.

Methods

The current study examined actual online sports wagering activity of a similar cohort of 32,262 gamblers who subscribed to a European online betting platform in February 2015 to understand how sports betting might have changed in ten years. Measures included subscriber characteristics, betting activities, and transactional activities.

Results

Players placed a median of 15 bets during the 8-month study period, made a median of 2.5 bets per betting day, had a median bet size of 6.1 euros, and experienced a median net loss of 25 euros. We were able to distinguish highly involved bettors in the top 2% of total wagered, net loss, and number of bets, whose behavior differed from that of the rest of the sample.

Discussion and Conclusions

Sports wagering behavior has remained relatively stable over time despite legislative changes and an increase in popularity, with a small subset of subscribers exhibiting disproportionately high engagement, transactional activity, and in-game betting. Further investigation of individual trajectories of wagering behavior and engagement with different types of sports wagering products is merited.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Social determinants are closely related to addiction, both as a cause and a consequence of substance use and other addictive behaviors. The present paper examines prosocialness (i.e. the tendency to help, empathize, and care for others) among a population of young males. We compared prosocialness across different types of addiction and examined whether prosocialness varied according to the presence of multiple addictions.

Methods

A sample of 5,675 young males, aged 19–29 years old (Mean = 21.4; Median = 21), completed a questionnaire that included screening tools to identify addictive behaviors with regards to alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, gambling, and gaming. The questionnaire also included a scale to measure prosocialness.

Results

Compared to a no-addiction control group, the subgroups of young men suffering from behavioral addictions (i.e., gambling and gaming) reported the lowest levels of prosocialness. Respondents with an alcohol addiction also showed lower prosocialness compared to no-addiction controls. By contrast, no significant differences in prosocialness were found between respondents with nicotine disorder or cannabis disorder and the no-addiction controls. Furthermore, the number of addictions had no clear, observable effects on prosocialness. Significant differences were found between the no-addiction control group and the groups reporting one or more addictions, but not between the separate groups reporting one, two, and three or more addictions.

Discussion and conclusions

A better understanding of the social dimension affecting young males with addiction, particularly gambling and gaming addictions, may be useful for their prevention and treatment.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

It has been argued that similar to addictive behaviors, problematic Social Network sites use (PSNSU) is characterized by sensitized reward processing and cue-reactivity. However, no study to our knowledge has yet investigated cue-reactivity in PSNSU. The present study aims at investigating cue-reactivity to Social Network sites (i.e., Facebook)-related visual cues in individuals identified as problematic vs. non-problematic Facebook users by the Problematic Facebook Use Scale.

Methods

The Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) were recorded during the passive viewing of Facebook-related, pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral pictures in 27 problematic and 26 non-problematic users. Moreover, craving for Facebook usage was collected using a Likert scale.

Results

Despite problematic users were more likely to endorse higher craving than non-problematic ones, Facebook-related cues elicited larger ERP positivity (400–600 ms) than neutral, and comparable to unpleasant stimuli, in all Facebook users. Only in problematic users we found larger positivity (600–800 ms) to pleasant than unpleasant cues and higher craving to be related with lower later positivity (800–1,000 ms) to pleasant and unpleasant cues.

Discussion

Regardless of whether Facebook usage is problematic or non-problematic, Facebook-related cues seem to be motivationally relevant stimuli that capture attentional resources in the earlier stages of “motivated” attentional allocation. Moreover, our results support the view that in higher-craving problematic users, reduced abilities to experience emotions would be the result of defective emotion regulation processes that allow craving states to capture more motivational/attentional resources at the expense of other emotional states.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Parental depressive symptoms may aggravate the effects of children’s emotional problems on risks for Internet gaming disorder (IGD). Here we examined the joint effects of children’s emotional problems and parents’ depressive symptoms on the incidence of IGD.

Methods

A large prospective, population-based cohort tested potential interactions between children’s emotional problems, parents’ depressive symptoms, and incidence of high risk of IGD (HRIGD). Family dyads (n=2,031) that included children who were non-HRIGD at baseline completed assessments of childhood and parental affective symptomatology. HRIGD was assessed at baseline and 12 months. Relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) estimated the magnitudes of interactions.

Results

In terms of risk for the development of IGD, parental depression was 1.8 times greater, children’s emotional problems were 2.9 times greater, and both risk factors together were 6.1 times greater than the background risk, with the last two findings reaching statistical significance. The expected risk for the development of HRIGD was RR=3.7.

Discussion and conclusions

Children’s emotional problems demonstrated a particularly strong relationship with HRIGD. Joint effects of children’s emotional problems and depressive symptoms in parents on the incidence of HRIGD were stronger than the sum of the independent effects of each factor. The findings suggest that combining interventions for the treatment of children’s emotional problems and parents’ depressive symptoms may have extra risk reduction effects on preventing IGD in children and adolescents.

Open access