Binge-watching (i.e., seeing multiple episodes of the same TV series in a row) now constitutes a widespread phenomenon. However, little is known about the psychological factors underlying this behavior, as reflected by the paucity of available studies, most merely focusing on its potential harmfulness by applying the classic criteria used for other addictive disorders without exploring the uniqueness of binge-watching. This study thus aimed to take the opposite approach as a first step toward a genuine understanding of binge-watching behaviors through a qualitative analysis of the phenomenological characteristics of TV series watching.
A focus group of regular TV series viewers ( N = 7) was established to explore a wide range of aspects related to TV series watching (e.g., motives, viewing practices, and related behaviors).
A content analysis identified binge-watching features across three dimensions: TV series watching motivations, TV series watching engagement, and structural characteristics of TV shows. Most participants acknowledged that TV series watching can become addictive, but they all agreed having trouble recognizing themselves as truly being an “addict.” Although obvious connections could be established with substance addiction criteria and symptoms, such parallelism appeared to be insufficient, as several distinctive facets emerged (e.g., positive view, transient overinvolvement, context dependency, and low everyday life impact).
The research should go beyond the classic biomedical and psychological models of addictive behaviors to account for binge-watching in order to explore its specificities and generate the first steps toward an adequate theoretical rationale for these emerging problematic behaviors.