Experienced gratification and compensation in addictive behaviors: Investigating its relevance in different types of Internet-use disorders
With the inclusion of gaming disorder and gambling disorder in the ICD-11 and DSM-5, pornography-use disorder, buying-shopping disorder, and social-networks-use disorders are discussed as further disorders due to addictive behaviors. For a better understanding of those specific Internet-use disorders, possible convergences and differences must be identified. Thereby, it is assumed that the experience of gratification and the compensation of deficits due to the use of online applications represent specific reinforcing processes. We address the question of which components of experienced gratification and compensation could be identified, and whether they are comparable across different (additive) online behaviors.
The newly developed questionnaire 'Experienced Gratification and Compensation Scale (EGCS)' captures the constructs experienced gratification and compensation, whereby it is measured whether gratification is actually experienced by using a specific application and whether negative emotions or stress are reduced. Participants (N=1058) received the questionnaire modified for their preferred online activity (gaming, gambling, buying-shopping, social-networks, pornography). Further questionnaires for craving experiences, use expectancies, and symptom severity were used, assessing divergent and convergent validities.
The results of the confirmatory factor analyses indicated a 2x2 factor structure (gratification: CFI=.972, TLI=.948, RMSEA=.078, SRMR=.029; compensation: CFI=.991, TLI=.985, RMSEA=.067, SRMR=.017): gratification of needs, experience of hedonisms, compensation of needs, and compensation of stress, which were valid for the overall sample and specific online behaviors. Both gratification and compensation factors significantly correlated with craving experiences, use expectancies, and symptom severity, with higher effect sizes between compensation factors, symptom severity and avoidance use expectancies, and between gratification factors and positive use expectancies.
Specific factors for experienced gratification and compensation could be identified for several online behaviors, which seem to be risk factors of specific Internet-use disorders. Further studies should investigate the interplay of these components with further addiction-related mechanisms as well as the relevance in other addictive tendencies such as substance-use disorders.