Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research

J Behav Addict. 2015 Sep;4(3):119-23. doi: 10.1556/2006.4.2015.009. Epub 2015 May 27.


Background Behavioral addiction research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. However, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction. Methods and aim In this article, we discuss how the use of atheoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of "new" behavioral addictions. Results Both methodological and theoretical shortcomings of these studies were discussed. Conclusions We suggested that studies overpathologizing daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. Consequently, we proposed several roadmaps for future research in the field, centrally highlighting the need for longer tenable behavioral addiction research that shifts from a mere criteria-based approach toward an approach focusing on the psychological processes involved.

Keywords: DSM; behavioral addictions; diagnosis; everyday behaviors; mental health; psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Behavioral Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*

Grants and funding

Joël Billieux and Pierre Maurage are granted by the Belgium National Lottery for research on gambling disorder. Joël Billieux is granted by the European Commission for Research on the Problematic usage of information and communication technology (“Tech Use Disorders”; Grant ID: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF-627999). Pierre Maurage (Research Associate) and Alexandre Heeren (Senior Research Fellow) are funded by the Belgian National Foundation for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS, Belgium). Alexandre Heeren is also funded by the Belgian Foundation “Vocatio” (Scientific Vocation).