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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 546342, 7 pages
Research Article

Addressing the Question of Disorder-Specific Risk Factors of Internet Addiction: A Comparison of Personality Traits in Patients with Addictive Behaviors and Comorbid Internet Addiction

1Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Untere Zahlbacher Straße 8, 55131 Mainz, Germany
2Bundesverband für Stationäre Suchtkrankenhilfe e.V.(buss), Wilhelmshöher Allee 273, 34131 Kassel, Germany
3Therapeutic Giudance of LWL Rehabilitation Centre Ostwestfalen, Bernhard-Salzmann-Klinik, Buxelstraße 50, 33334 Gütersloh, Germany

Received 17 April 2013; Revised 5 June 2013; Accepted 8 June 2013

Academic Editor: Nader Pouratian

Copyright © 2013 K. W. Müller et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Uncontrolled use of the internet has been reported to affect the lives of some users in a negative way. According to epidemiological studies, about 1% of the general population is showing signs of internet addiction. Since internet addiction is becoming a growing health concern, research on potential risk factors is becoming more important in order to develop strategies for prevention and to adopt therapeutic treatment. Although there are some studies investigating personality traits in internet addiction, most of these studies are based on samples of healthy subjects. In this research project, we compared personality profiles of a sample of patients in different rehabilitation centers. 70 patients with an addiction disorder that additionally met the criteria for internet addiction were compared to 48 patients suffering from alcohol dependence. Besides Big Five personality traits, we also assessed depressive symptoms. It was shown that patients with comorbid internet addiction can be discriminated from other patients by higher neuroticism and lower extraversion as well as lower conscientiousness. After controlling for depressive symptoms, lower conscientiousness especially turned out to be a disorder-specific risk factor. As internet addiction is related to unique patterns of personality traits and can be discriminated from alcohol dependence, treatment approaches are needed that meet the specific requirements of patients with internet addiction.