Risky decision making in individuals with tendencies towards specific Internet-use disorders: Results from the Cards & Lottery Task
Beyond gaming disorder, other problematic behaviors are characterized by a similarly addictive use of specific Internet applications, such as online buying-shopping or social networking. Individuals with addictive disorders show certain deficits in risky decision-making tasks, but the results with respect to specific types of problematic Internet use are mixed.
In an online setting, we implemented the Cards & Lottery Task (CLT), questionnaires measuring individual characteristics (e.g. impulsivity and psychopathology), and screeners for specific Internet-use disorders (sIUD). We compared individuals showing symptoms of sIUD (n=174) to a control group (n=107) of participants with non-problematic Internet use. We further tested whether decision-making performance and individual characteristics interacted in explaining sIUD symptom severity. The difference in CLT performance was not significant (p=.545, eta²p=.001). The group with sIUD tendencies showed higher attentional impulsivity (p=.002, eta²p=.036) as well as higher levels of depression (p<.001, eta²p=.067) and anxiety (p<.001, eta²p=.050) compared to the control group. CLT performance did not show significant interactions with any of the other variables (all ps>.05).
Tendencies towards sIUD do not appear to be accompanied by general decision-making problems. It can be assumed that deficits in decision-making in sIUD only occur with certain tasks that have specific characteristics and/or with higher symptom severity. Attentional deficits and (comorbid) psychopathological symptoms seem to more commonly contribute to problematic Internet-use behaviors.