Research on the development of gaming disorder assumes that the quality of reinforcement learning as well as the content of use expectancies are initially rewarding in the early stages of the addictive behavior and becomes steadily more compensatory in the later stages. This assumed transition could be reflected in gaming-related mental imagery as well as the decision to play videogames in daily life.
We recruited 127 individuals who play videogames. Following a strict diagnostic procedure, individuals were either classified as showing casual or at-risk gaming patterns. The experience and expectancy of reward and relief were assessed in the laboratory, followed by a 14-day ambulatory assessment asking for gaming-related mental imagery intensity and playing frequency. Besides group differences, we tested a gratification and a compensation pathway in a structural equation model among groups separately.
Results indicate that mental imagery and playing frequency as well as reinforcement processes and use expectancies are heightened among individuals showing at-risk gaming patterns as compared to casual gaming patterns. Gaming-related mental imagery was only predicted by compensation among individuals showing casual gaming patterns, and we found no significant predictions for daily gaming frequency in any of the models.
Discussion and conclusions
The results implicate that individuals with at-risk gaming patterns might hold stronger learned reinforcement contingencies. Daily usage seems unaffected by these contingencies, possibly indicative of habitualized behaviors. Additionally, the results provide some support for the consideration of imaginal desire thoughts as a specific coping mechanism in the context of gaming behaviors.
With the inclusion of gaming disorder in the ICD-11, diagnostic criteria were introduced for this relatively new disorder. These criteria may also be applied to other potential specific Internet-use disorders, which may be classified in ICD-11 as other disorders due to addictive behaviors, such as online buying-shopping disorder, online pornography-use disorder, social-networks-use disorder, and online gambling disorder. Due to the heterogeneity in existing instruments, we aimed to develop a consistent and economic measure of major types of (potential) specific Internet-use disorders based on ICD-11 criteria for gaming disorder.
The new 11-item Assessment of Criteria for Specific Internet-use Disorders (ACSID-11) measures five behavioral addictions with the same set of items by following the principles of WHO’s ASSIST. The ACSID-11 was administered to active Internet users (N = 985) together with an adaptation of the Ten-Item Internet Gaming Disorder Test (IGDT-10) and screeners for mental health. We used Confirmatory Factor Analyses to analyze the factor structure of ACSID-11.
The assumed four-factorial structure was confirmed and was superior to the unidimensional solution. This applied to gaming disorder and to the other specific Internet-use disorders. ACSID-11 scores correlated with IGDT-10 as well as with the measures of psychological distress.
Discussion and Conclusions
The ACSID-11 seems to be suitable for the consistent assessment of (potential) specific Internet-use disorders based on ICD-11 diagnostic criteria for gaming disorder. The ACSID-11 may be a useful and economic instrument for studying various behavioral addictions with the same items and improving comparability.
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.
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.
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.