Binge-Watching Behaviour: The Role of Impulsivity and Depressive Symptoms

Eur Addict Res. 2020;26(3):141-150. doi: 10.1159/000506307. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


Introduction: Following the digital progress and the availability of online streaming services, binge-watching (in the literature often defined as watching >2 episodes of a TV series in one sitting) has become a popular viewing pattern. Concerns about possible negative consequences of this behaviour have arisen and its proximity to behavioural addictions is discussed. The aim of the present study was to explore how depressive symptoms, impulsivity and their potential interaction are related to the consequences of binge-watching. In addition, the possible association of the Big 5 personality traits neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and openness with consequences from binge-watching was assessed.

Method: An online survey including the assessment of intensity of and negative consequences from binge-watching (with an adapted version of the Short-Internet-Addiction Test and a newly developed questionnaire) and questionnaires on depressive symptoms (i.e., General Depression Scale), impulsivity (i.e., Barratt Impulsiveness Scale) and personality traits (i.e., short version of the Big 5 Inventory) was completed by 228 participants.

Results: Regression analysis indicated that impulsivity was associated with loss of control and neglect of duties, while depressive symptoms led to neglect of duties and social problems. No significant interaction effects were observed. Conscientiousness was the only personality trait that explained a significant proportion of the variance of consequences from binge-watching.

Discussion/conclusion: Our findings suggest that depressive symptoms and impulsivity are 2 independent pathways to negative consequences from binge watching. However, given the rather low proportion of variance proportion explained, future studies are warranted to enhance our understanding of other individual characteristics and to further clarify the proximity to behavioural addictions.

Keywords: Binge-watching; Impulsivity; Loss of control; Marathon viewing; TV series.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*