Co-occurrence of addictive behaviours: personality factors related to substance use, gambling and computer gaming

Eur Addict Res. 2012;18(4):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000335662. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Aim: To investigate co-occurrence and shared personality characteristics of problematic computer gaming, problematic gambling and substance use.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey data were collected from 2,553 German students aged 12-25 years. Self-report measures of substance use (alcohol, tobacco and cannabis), problematic gambling (South Oaks Gambling Screen - Revised for Adolescents, SOGS-RA), problematic computer gaming (Video Game Dependency Scale, KFN-CSAS-II), and of twelve different personality characteristics were obtained.

Results: Analyses revealed positive correlations between tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use and a smaller positive correlation between problematic gambling and problematic computer gaming. Problematic computer gaming co-occurred only with cannabis use, whereas problematic gambling was associated with all three types of substance use. Multivariate multilevel analyses showed differential patterns of personality characteristics. High impulsivity was the only personality characteristic associated with all five addictive behaviours. Depression and extraversion were specific to substance users. Four personality characteristics were specifically associated with problematic computer gaming: irritability/aggression, social anxiety, ADHD, and low self-esteem.

Conclusions: Problematic gamblers seem to be more similar to substance users than problematic computer gamers. From a personality perspective, results correspond to the inclusion of gambling in the same DSM-V category as substance use and question a one-to-one proceeding for computer gaming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / complications
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Child
  • Computers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Gambling / complications
  • Gambling / diagnosis
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Young Adult