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  • Author or Editor: Antonio Verdejo-Garcia x
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Authors: Dar Meshi, Anastassia Elizarova, Andrew Bender and Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

Background and aims

Online social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook provide users with myriad social rewards. These social rewards bring users back to SNSs repeatedly, with some users displaying maladaptive, excessive SNS use. Symptoms of this excessive SNS use are similar to symptoms of substance use and behavioral addictive disorders. Importantly, individuals with substance use and behavioral addictive disorders have difficulty making value-based decisions, as demonstrated with paradigms like the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT); however, it is currently unknown if excessive SNS users display the same decision-making deficits. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between excessive SNS use and IGT performance.

Methods

We administered the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) to 71 participants to assess their maladaptive use of the Facebook SNS. We next had them perform 100 trials of the IGT to assess their value-based decision making.

Results

We found a negative correlation between BFAS score and performance in the IGT across participants, specifically over the last block of 20 trials. There were no correlations between BFAS score and IGT performance in earlier blocks of trials.

Discussion

Our results demonstrate that more severe, excessive SNS use is associated with more deficient value-based decision making. In particular, our results indicate that excessive SNS users may make more risky decisions during the IGT task.

Conclusion

This result further supports a parallel between individuals with problematic, excessive SNS use, and individuals with substance use and behavioral addictive disorders.

Open access

Background and aims

Existing research shows that gambling disorder patients (GDPs) process gambling outcomes abnormally when compared against healthy controls (HCs). These anomalies present the form of exaggerated or distorted beliefs regarding the expected utility of outcomes and one’s ability to predict or control gains and losses, as well as retrospective reinterpretations of what caused them. This study explores the possibility that the emotional regulation strategies GDPs use to cope with aversive events are linked to these cognitions.

Methods

41 GDPs and 45 HCs, matched in sociodemographic variables, were assessed in gambling severity, emotion-regulation strategies (cognitive emotion-regulation questionnaire, CERQ), and gambling-related cognitions (gambling-related cognitions scale, GRCS).

Results

GDPs showed higher scores in all gambling-related cognition dimensions. Regarding emotion regulation, GDPs were observed to use self-blame and catastrophizing, but also positive refocusing, more often than controls. Additionally, in GDPs, putatively adaptive CERQ strategies shared a significant portion of variance with South Oaks gambling screen severity and GRCS beliefs. Shared variability was mostly attributable to the roles of refocusing on planning and putting into perspective at positively predicting severity and the interpretative bias (GDPs propensity to reframe losses in a more benign way), respectively.

Discussion and conclusions

Results show links between emotion-regulation strategies and problematic gambling-related behaviors and cognitions. The pattern of those links supports the idea that GDPs use emotion-regulation strategies, customarily regarded as adaptive, to cope with negative emotions, so that the motivational and cognitive processing of gambling outcomes becomes less effective in shaping gambling-related behavior.

Open access