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      Toward a qualitative understanding of binge-watching behaviors: A focus group approach

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          Background and aims

          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).

          Discussion and conclusion

          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.

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          Most cited references 87

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          The Motivational Pull of Video Games: A Self-Determination Theory Approach

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            The Demographics, Motivations, and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively Multi-User Online Graphical Environments

             Nick Yee (2006)
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              Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research

              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.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                12 October 2017
                December 2017
                : 6
                : 4
                : 457-471
                [ 1 ]Addictive and Compulsive Behaviours Lab, Institute for Health and Behaviour, University of Luxembourg , Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
                [ 2 ]Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain , Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
                [ 3 ]Addiction Division, Department of Mental Health and Psychiatry, University Hospitals of Geneva , Geneva, Switzerland
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Maèva Flayelle; Maison des Sciences Humaines, University of Luxembourg, 11, Porte des Sciences, L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg; Phone: +352 46 66 44 5332; Fax: +352 46 66 44 35332; E-mail: maeva.flayelle@
                © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 94, Pages: 15
                Funding sources: PM (research associate) is funded by the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS, Belgium).
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