Similarities and Differences between Gambling Disorder and other Addiction-like Behaviors

  • Mira Fauth-BühlerEmail author


Gambling disorder is the first recognized non-substance behavioral addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th ed., Washington, DC, 2013). However, there is still debate on whether other forms of excessively conducted behaviors, such as Internet gaming disorder, compulsive buying or compulsive sexual behavior, can be conceptualized as addictions.

For an informed decision, research findings in different domains such as diagnostics, comorbidity and family history need to be compared between gambling disorder and other potentially addictive behaviors. Importantly, similar underlying neurobiological mechanisms need to be present indicating a biological familiarity between diseases. Neuroimaging data on reward processing and impulsivity are of particular interest given their known relevance in the development and maintenance of addictive disorders including gambling disorder.

In this chapter, we focus on excessive behaviors for which at least some scientific evidence exists for the relevant categories listed above. These are Internet gaming disorder, compulsive buying disorder and compulsive sexual behavior.

Available data show that research on behavioral addictions is limited and publications are therefore sparse for compulsive buying and compulsive sexual behaviors. Yet, available findings provide primary evidence of similarities between gambling disorder and the three potential candidates (compulsive buying disorder, compulsive sexual behavior and Internet gaming disorder) in different domains including the neurobiology of reward processing and impulsivity.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Iwp Institute for Economic Psychology, Study Centre StuttgartFOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and ManagementEssenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Addictive Behaviour and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental HealthMedical Faculty Mannheim, University of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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