Cue-induced craving in Internet-communication disorder using visual and auditory cues in a cue-reactivity paradigm (2017)

Wegmann, Elisa, Benjamin Stodt, and Matthias Brand.

Addiction Research & Theory (2017): 1-9.


Internet-communication disorder (ICD) signifies the excessive, uncontrolled use of online-communication applications such as social networking sites, instant messaging services, or blogs. Despite the ongoing debate about classification and phenomenology, there is an increasing number of individuals suffering from negative consequences due to their uncontrolled use of these applications. Moreover, there is growing evidence for similarities between behavioral addictions and even substance-use disorders. Cue-reactivity and craving are considered as key concepts of the development and maintenance of addictive behavior. Based on the assumption that certain visual symbols, as well as auditory ringtones are associated with online-communication applications, this study investigates the effect of visual and auditory cues compared to neutral cues on subjective craving for communication application use in addiction-related behavior.

In a 2×2 between-subjects design, 86 participants were confronted with cues of one of four conditions (visual addiction-related, visual neutral, auditory addiction-related, auditory neutral). Baseline and post-craving measurements and tendencies towards ICD were assessed. The results reveal increased craving reactions after the presentation of addiction-related cues while craving reactions decrease after neutral cues. The craving measurements were also correlated with tendencies towards ICD. The results emphasize that cue-reactivity and craving are relevant mechanisms of the development and maintenance of an ICD.

Moreover, they show parallels with further specific Internet-use disorders, such as Internet-gaming disorder, and even substance-use disorder, so that a classification as behavioral addiction should be considered.