Is Sensation Seeking a correlate of excessive behaviors and behavioral addictions? A detailed examination of patients with Gambling Disorder and Internet Addiction (2016)

Psychiatry Res. 2016 Jun 11;242:319-325. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.06.004.

Müller KW1, Dreier M2, Beutel ME3, Wölfling K4.


Sensation Seeking has repeatedly been related to substance use. Also, its role as a correlate of Gambling Disorder has been discussed although research has led to heterogeneous results. Likewise, first studies on Internet Addiction have indicated increased Sensation Seeking, to some extent contradicting clinical impression of patients suffering from internet addiction. We assessed Sensation Seeking in a clinical sample of n=251 patients with Gambling Disorder, n=243 patients with internet addiction, n=103 clients with excessive but not addictive internet use, and n=142 healthy controls. The clinical groups were further sub-divided according to the preferred type of addictive behavior (slot-machine gambling vs. high arousal gambling activities and internet gaming disorder vs. other internet-related addictive behaviors). Decreased scores in some subscales of Sensation Seeking were found among male patients compared to healthy controls with no differences between patients with Gambling Disorder and Internet Addiction. The type of preferred gambling or online activity was not related to differences in Sensation Seeking. Previous findings indicating only small associations between Sensation Seeking and Gambling Disorder were confirmed. Regarding Internet Addiction our results contradict findings from non-clinical samples. Sensation Seeking might be relevant in initiating contact to the health care system.


Behavioral addictions; Gambling Disorder; Internet Addiction; Internet Gaming Disorder; Sensation Seeking; Subtypes of addictive behavior