Binge-watching (i.e., seeing multiple episodes of the same TV series in a row) now constitutes a widespread phenomenon. However, little is known about the psychological factors underlying this behavior, as reflected by the paucity of available studies, most merely focusing on its potential harmfulness by applying the classic criteria used for other addictive disorders without exploring the uniqueness of binge-watching. This study thus aimed to take the opposite approach as a first step toward a genuine understanding of binge-watching behaviors through a qualitative analysis of the phenomenological characteristics of TV series watching.
A focus group of regular TV series viewers (N = 7) was established to explore a wide range of aspects related to TV series watching (e.g., motives, viewing practices, and related behaviors).
A content analysis identified binge-watching features across three dimensions: TV series watching motivations, TV series watching engagement, and structural characteristics of TV shows. Most participants acknowledged that TV series watching can become addictive, but they all agreed having trouble recognizing themselves as truly being an “addict.” Although obvious connections could be established with substance addiction criteria and symptoms, such parallelism appeared to be insufficient, as several distinctive facets emerged (e.g., positive view, transient overinvolvement, context dependency, and low everyday life impact).
Discussion and conclusion
The research should go beyond the classic biomedical and psychological models of addictive behaviors to account for binge-watching in order to explore its specificities and generate the first steps toward an adequate theoretical rationale for these emerging problematic behaviors.
Behavioral addiction research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. However, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction.
Methods and aim
In this article, we discuss how the use of atheoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of “new” behavioral addictions.
Both methodological and theoretical shortcomings of these studies were discussed.
We suggested that studies overpathologizing daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. Consequently, we proposed several roadmaps for future research in the field, centrally highlighting the need for longer tenable behavioral addiction research that shifts from a mere criteria-based approach toward an approach focusing on the psychological processes involved.
Binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of a TV series in one session) has recently become standard practice among TV series viewers; this expansion generates concerns regarding the potential negative outcomes associated with this habit. However, the investigation of its psychological correlates remains fragmentary, with few initial studies a priori conceptualizing this behavior as a new addictive disorder. This study explored these psychological correlates using cluster analysis of binge-watching behavior based on three key psychological factors: motivations, impulsivity, and emotional reactivity.
An online survey was completed by 4,039 TV series viewers. Data were analyzed using hierarchical and non-hierarchical cluster analyses, the validity of the clusters being finally determined through mutual comparisons with a selection of external correlates.
Four clusters were identified: recreational TV series viewers (presenting low involvement in binge-watching), regulated binge-watchers (moderately involved), avid binge-watchers (presenting elevated but non-problematic involvement), and unregulated binge-watchers (presenting potentially problematic involvement associated with negative outcomes).
Discussion and conclusions
This study underlines the heterogeneous and multidetermined nature of binge-watching. Our findings suggest that high engagement in binge-watching is distinct from problematic binge-watching, thus reinforcing the notion that conceptualizing binge-watching as an addictive disorder is of low relevance and might actually lead to the overpathologization of this highly popular leisure activity.
While applying a diagnostic approach (i.e., comparing “clinical” cases with “healthy” controls) is part of our methodological habits as researchers and clinicians, this approach has been particularly criticized in the behavioral addictions research field, in which a lot of studies are conducted on “emerging” conditions. Here we exemplify the pitfalls of using a cut-off-based approach in the context of binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of series back-to-back) by demonstrating that no reliable cut-off scores could be determined with a widely used assessment instrument measuring binge-watching.
The DSM-5 includes criteria for diagnosing Internet gaming disorder (IGD) that are adapted from substance abuse and widely used in research and clinical contexts, although evidence supporting their validity remains scarce. This study compared online gamers who do or do not endorse IGD criteria regarding self-control-related abilities (impulsivity, inhibitory control, and decision-making), considered the hallmarks of addictive behaviors.
A double approach was adopted to distinguish pathological from recreational gamers: The first is the classic DSM-5 approach (≥5 criteria required to endorse the IGD diagnosis), and the second consists in using latent class analysis (LCA) for IGD criteria to distinguish gamers’ subgroups. We computed comparisons separately for each approach. Ninety-seven volunteer gamers from the community were recruited. Self-reported questionnaires were used to measure demographic- and game-related characteristics, problematic online gaming (with the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire), impulsivity (with the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale), and depression (with the Beck Depression Inventory-II). Experimental tasks were used to measure inhibitory control (Hybrid-Stop Task) and decision-making abilities (Game of Dice Task).
Thirty-two participants met IGD criteria (33% of the sample), whereas LCA identified two groups of gamers [pathological (35%) and recreational]. Comparisons that used both approaches (DSM-5 and LCA) failed to identify significant differences regarding all constructs except for variables related to actual or problematic gaming behaviors.
The validity of IGD criteria is questioned, mostly with respect to their relevance in distinguishing high engagement from pathological involvement in video games.
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.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have become the most popular type of video games played worldwide, superseding the playing of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and First-Person Shooter games. However, empirical studies focusing on the use and abuse of MOBA games are still very limited, particularly regarding impulsivity, which is an indicator of addictive states but has not yet been explored in MOBA games. In this context, the objective of the present study is to explore the associations between impulsivity and symptoms of addictive use of MOBA games in a sample of highly involved League of Legends (LoL, currently the most popular MOBA game) gamers.
Thirty-six LoL gamers were recruited and completed both experimental (Single Key Impulsivity Paradigm) and self-reported impulsivity assessments (s-UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), in addition to an assessment of problematic video game use (Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire).
Results showed links between impulsivity-related constructs and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement. Findings indicated that impaired ability to postpone rewards in an experimental laboratory task was strongly related to problematic patterns of MOBA game involvement. Although less consistent, several associations were also found between self-reported impulsivity traits and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement.
Despite these results are preliminary and based upon a small (self-selected) sample, the present study highlights potential psychological factors related to the addictive use of MOBA games.
Since mid-March 2020, over 3 billion people have been confined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Problematic eating behaviors are likely to be impacted by the pandemic through multiple pathways. This study examined the relationships between stress related to lockdown measures and binge eating and dietary restriction in a population of French students during the first week of confinement.
A sample of undergraduate students (N = 5,738) completed an online questionnaire 7 days after lockdown measures were introduced. The survey comprised variables related to lockdown measures and the COVID-19-pandemic, mood, stress, body image, binge eating and dietary restriction during the past 7 days, as well as intent to binge eat and restrict in the following 15 days.
Stress related to the lockdown was associated with greater likelihood of binge eating and dietary restriction over the past week and intentions to binge eat and restrict over the next 15 days. Greater exposure to COVID-19-related media was associated with increased eating restriction over the past week. Binge eating and restriction (past and intentions) were associated with established risk factors, including female gender, low impulse regulation, high body dissatisfaction, and having a concurrent probable eating disorder.
Discussion and conclusion
The higher the stress related to the first week of confinement, the higher the risk of problematic eating behaviors among students, particularly those characterized by eating-related concerns. Screening for risk factors and providing targeted interventions might help decrease problematic eating behaviors among those who are most vulnerable.