DIAGNOSING BEHAVIORAL ADDICTIONS: RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH ATHEORETICAL AND CONFIRMATORY CONCEPTUALIZATIONS

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Billieux J1,2
1Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
2Internet and Gambling Disorders Clinic, Department of Adult Psychiatry, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

Behavioral addictions research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. Consequently, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction. This talk will address how the use of a-theoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of “new” behavioral addictions, and how this approach suffers from both theoretical and methodological shortcomings. The talk will also explain how studies overpathologizing regular daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. This would be problematic, as the study of excessive forms of behavior seems very valuable in a digital age. Stimuli such as gaming, gambling, erotica, and complex forms of social media are easier to reach than ever and harder to control.

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