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Although problematic pornography use (PPU) will soon be diagnosable through the International Classification for Diseases, 11th revision, its clinical profile remains contentious. The current study assessed whether PPU may be characterized by various symptoms sometimes observed among online recovery forums that currently lack empirical assessment, such as heightened cognitive-affective issues following pornography use and sexual dysfunction with partners as a result of escalating use.
Cross-sectional surveys were completed by male PPUs (N = 138, mean age = 31.75 years, standard deviation = 10.72) recruited via online recovery communities and Amazon Mechanical Turk. Multiple regression analysis was performed using the Problematic Pornography Use Scale as the dependent variable and variables of interest (Arizona Sexual Experiences Scales modified for partnered sex and pornography use, Brunel Mood Scale, Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, and the Tolerance subscale from the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale) and potential confounders (eg, comorbid psychopathology) as independent variables.
Current levels of pornography use, indicators of tolerance and escalation, greater sexual functioning with pornography, and psychological distress were uniquely associated with PPU severity, while cognitive-affective issues after pornography use, impulsivity and compulsivity were not. Although sexual dysfunction did not predict PPU severity, nearly half the sample indicated sexual dysfunction with intimate partners.
The present findings suggest that PPU may be characterized by tolerance and escalation (as per substance addiction models), greater sexual responsivity toward pornography, and psychological distress. Meanwhile, the high rate of partnered sexual dysfunction observed suggests that PPU might be somewhat separable from other forms of compulsive sexual behavior.
To (1) confirm whether the Habit, Reward, and Fear Scale is able to generate a 3-factor solution in a population of obsessive-compulsive disorder and alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients; (2) compare these clinical groups in their habit, reward, and fear motivations; and (3) investigate whether homogenous subgroups can be identified to resolve heterogeneity within and across disorders based on the motivations driving ritualistic and drinking behaviors.
One hundred and thirty-four obsessive-compulsive disorder (n = 76) or AUD (n = 58) patients were assessed with a battery of scales including the Habit, Reward, and Fear Scale, the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, the Alcohol Dependence Scale, the Behavioral Inhibition/Activation System Scale, and the Urgency, (lack of
) Premeditation, (lack of
) Perseverance, Sensation Seeking, and Positive Urgency Impulsive Behavior Scale.
A 3-factor solution reflecting habit, reward, and fear subscores explained 56.6% of the total variance of the Habit, Reward, and Fear Scale. Although the habit and fear subscores were significantly higher in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and the reward subscores were significantly greater in AUD patients, a cluster analysis identified that the 3 clusters were each characterized by differing proportions of OCD and AUD patients.
While affective (reward- and fear-driven) and nonaffective (habitual) motivations for repetitive behaviors seem dissociable from each other, it is possible to identify subgroups in a transdiagnostic manner based on motivations that do not match perfectly motivations that usually described in OCD and AUD patients.
Compulsivity can be seen across various mental health conditions and refers to a tendency toward repetitive habitual acts that are persistent and functionally impairing. Compulsivity involves dysfunctional reward-related circuitry and is thought to be significantly heritable. Despite this, its measurement from a transdiagnostic perspective has received only scant research attention. Here we examine both the psychometric properties of a recently developed compulsivity scale, as well as its relationship with compulsive symptoms, familial risk, and reward-related attentional capture.
Two-hundred and sixty individuals participated in the study (mean age = 36.0 [SD = 10.8] years; 60.0% male) and completed the Cambridge-Chicago Compulsivity Trait Scale (CHI-T), along with measures of psychiatric symptoms and family history thereof. Participants also completed a task designed to measure reward-related attentional capture (n = 177).
CHI-T total scores had a normal distribution and acceptable Cronbach’s alpha (0.84). CHI-T total scores correlated significantly and positively (all p < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected) with Problematic Usage of the Internet, disordered gambling, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, alcohol misuse, and disordered eating. The scale was correlated significantly with history of addiction and obsessive-compulsive related disorders in first-degree relatives of participants and greater reward-related attentional capture.
These findings suggest that the CHI-T is suitable for use in online studies and constitutes a transdiagnostic marker for a range of compulsive symptoms, their familial loading, and related cognitive markers. Future work should more extensively investigate the scale in normative and clinical cohorts, and the role of value-modulated attentional capture across compulsive disorders.
We assessed self-reported drives for alcohol use and their impact on clinical features of alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients. Our prediction was that, in contrast to “affectively” (reward or fear) driven drinking, “habitual” drinking would be associated with worse clinical features in relation to alcohol use and higher occurrence of associated psychiatric symptoms.
Fifty-eight Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) alcohol abuse patients were assessed with a comprehensive battery of reward- and fear-based behavioral tendencies. An 18-item self-report instrument (the Habit, Reward and Fear Scale; HRFS) was employed to quantify affective (fear or reward) and non-affective (habitual) motivations for alcohol use. To characterize clinical and demographic measures associated with habit, reward, and fear, we conducted a partial least squares analysis.
Habitual alcohol use was significantly associated with the severity of alcohol dependence reflected across a range of domains and with lower number of detoxifications across multiple settings. In contrast, reward-driven alcohol use was associated with a single domain of alcohol dependence, reward-related behavioral tendencies, and lower number of detoxifications.
These results seem to be consistent with a shift from goal-directed to habit-driven alcohol use with severity and progression of addiction, complementing preclinical work and informing biological models of addiction. Both reward-related and habit-driven alcohol use were associated with lower number of detoxifications, perhaps stemming from more benign course for the reward-related and lack of treatment engagement for the habit-related alcohol abuse group. Future work should further explore the role of habit in this and other addictive disorders, and in obsessive-compulsive related disorders.
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