Interactions of impulsivity, general executive functions, and specific inhibitory control explain symptoms of social-networks-use disorder : An experimental study

Wegmann, Elisa GND; Müller, Silke M. GND; Turel, Ofir ORCID; Brand, Matthias GND

While the use of social media and online-communication applications has become an integral part of everyday life, some individuals suffer from an excessive, uncontrolled use of social media despite experiencing negative consequences. In accordance with neuropsychological models of addiction, we assume the tendency of a social-networks-use disorder to be related to an interplay of predisposing personality traits (e.g., impulsivity), and reductions in cognitive functions (e.g., executive functions, inhibitory control). The current study makes first strides towards examining this interplay. In addition to a newly developed social-networks-specific auditory Go-NoGo paradigm, other neuropsychological paradigms were used. Impulsivity and social-networks-use-disorder symptoms were assessed by standardized questionnaires. The results show that the symptom severity of a social-networks-use disorder is mainly associated with attentional impulsivity. General executive functions and specific inhibitory control of social-networks-related cues have no direct effect on symptom severity. However, moderated regression analyses emphasize that increased symptom severity is associated with higher attentional impulsivity, especially if there are additionally reductions in executive functions or specific inhibitory control. The results complement previous findings and inform future research on social-networks-use disorder. The findings support the applicability of theoretical models of addictive behaviors to the social-networks-use disorder and point to social-networks-related specificities regarding attention-related facets.

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Wegmann, E., Müller, S.M., Turel, O., Brand, M., 2020. Interactions of impulsivity, general executive functions, and specific inhibitory control explain symptoms of social-networks-use disorder: An experimental study. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-60819-4
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