Skip to main content
No AccessAddiction and Maladaptive Consumption

Web Wizard or Internet Addict? The Effects of Contextual Cues in Assessing Addiction

With the revolution in technology, the internet offers opportunity to be a “web wizard,” but its overuse could be problematic. Problematic internet use, also called internet addiction disorder (IAD), is typically self-diagnosed and has been linked to other comorbidities, such as gambling, alcoholism, and mood disorders. Psychiatrists have not reached agreement on how to define or measure it, and estimates of its prevalence vary widely. Five studies examine how people self-diagnose using the accessibility-diagnosticity model. We propose that risk perceptions are based on at least two inputs: estimated internet use, and IAD symptoms, estimates of both being malleable and contingent on context. Results show that (a) the range-of-response alternatives used to elicit internet usage affects reported internet use affecting risk perceptions; (b) self-risk perceptions are lower when IAD symptoms are elicited prior to risk estimates. We conclude by discussing the implications for context effects and self-diagnosis for health risk assessment.