This paper is a commentary to a debate article entitled: “Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research”, by Billieux et al. (2015).
Methods and aim
This brief response focused on the necessity to better characterize psychological and related neurocognitive determinants of persistent deleterious actions associated or not with substance utilization.
A majority of addicted people could be driven by psychological functional reasons to keep using drugs, gambling or buying despite the growing number of related negative consequences. In addition, a non-negligible proportion of them would need assistance to restore profound disturbances in basic learning processes involved in compulsive actions.
The distinction between psychological functionality and compulsive aspects of addictive behaviors should represent a big step towards more efficient treatments.
Many people present excessive patterns of social networking site (SNS) use and try to self-regulate it. However, little is known regarding the strategies employed by young adult SNS users and their role in preventing the emergence of addiction-like symptoms in relation to SNS use.
In Study 1, we employed a naturalistic-qualitative approach for finding commonly employed self-control strategies in relation to SNS use. In Study 2, we examined differences between the frequency and difficulty of the strategies identified in Study 1 and tested the process through which trait self-control exerts influence on reducing SNS addiction symptomology.
Study 1 revealed six families of self-control strategies, some reactive and some proactive. Study 2 pinpointed the most commonly used and most difficult to enact ones. It also showed that the difficulty to enact self-control strategies in relation to SNS use partially mediates the effect of trait self-control via SNS use habit on SNS addiction symptom severity.
Taken together, the present findings revealed that strategies for self-controlling SNS use are common and complex. Their theoretical and clinical significance stems from their ability to prevent the translation of poor trait self-control and strong SNS use habit to the emergence of excessive use as manifested in SNS addiction-like symptoms.
This commentary challenges some of the proposals made in the opinion paper entitled “The expanded interactional model of exercise addiction” by Dinardi, Egorov, and Szabo (2021). We first question the usefulness of the (expanded) interactional model of exercise addiction to determine the psychological processes underlying distress and functional impairment in excessive physical exercise. We then consider the authors’ use of the Self-Determination Theory to model exercise addiction, which risks the misclassification of strenuous, but adaptive, patterns of physical exercise as exercise addiction. We finally address broader concerns regarding the idea that maladaptive exercising could be conceptualized as an addictive disorder.
Precommitment refers to the ability to prospectively restrict the access to temptations. This study examined whether risk-taking during gambling is decreased when an individual has the opportunity to precommit to his forthcoming bet.
Sixty individuals participated in a gambling task that consisted of direct choice (simply chose one monetary option among four available ones, ranging from low-risk to high-risk options) or precommitment trials (before choosing an amount, participants had the opportunity to make a binding choice that made high-risk options unavailable).
We found that participants utilized the precommitment option, such that risk-taking was decreased on precommitment trials compared to direct choices. Within the precommitment trials, there was no significant difference in risk-taking following decisions to restrict versus non-restrict.
These findings suggest that the opportunity to precommit may be sufficient to reduce the attractiveness of risk.
Present results might be exploited to create interventions aiming at enhancing one’s ability to anticipate self-control failures while gambling.
The “process-model” of self-control proposes that the ego-depletion effect is better explained by a switch between interest in “have-to” labor and cognitive “want-to” leisure, rather than being mainly due to a decrease in cognitive resources, as advanced by the “strength-model” of self-control. However, it is currently difficult to disentangle the “process-model” from the “strength-model” of self-control. Here, we employed a stepwise approach, featuring three studies, for testing the process model of self-control.
In Study 1, we created a list of 30 self-control events for characterizing “have-to” conducts in the daily life. In Study 2, mental visualization of effortful self-control events (“have-to”) and monetary risk-taking (“want-to”) were employed for testing the strength-model of self-control. In Study 3, to test the process-model of self-control, participants were simply required to read self-control (or neutral) sentences.
Study 1 provided evidence regarding external validly for the list of self-control events. Study 2 showed that mental visualization of effortful self-control events increases subsequent monetary risk-taking. Study 3 highlighted that the brief apparition of a self-control-related sentence was sufficient for increasing risk-taking. These patterns were evidenced in the trial with the less advantageous gain/loss ratio.
Altogether these findings support the process-model of self-control in showing that triggering the semantic content of a “have-to” conduct, without its actual execution, is sufficient for modulating subsequent “want-to” activity.
These findings could contribute to advancing current knowledge on how the high availability of ready-to-consume rewards in modern environments is redefining humans’ self-control ability.
Open science refers to a set of practices that aim to make scientific research more transparent, accessible, and reproducible, including pre-registration of study protocols, sharing of data and materials, the use of transparent research methods, and open access publishing. In this commentary, we describe and evaluate the current state of open science practices in behavioral addiction research. We highlight the specific value of open science practices for the field; discuss recent field-specific meta-scientific reviews that show the adoption of such practices remains in its infancy; address the challenges to engaging with open science; and make recommendations for how researchers, journals, and scientific institutions can work to overcome these challenges and promote high-quality, transparently reported behavioral addiction research. By collaboratively promoting open science practices, the field can create a more sustainable and productive research environment that benefits both the scientific community and society as a whole.