Research Topic

Etiology, Pathogenesis, and Consequences of Maladaptive Habits

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About this Research Topic

Tempting behaviors (e.g., alcohol consumption, risk-taking in traffic, smoking, food consumption, drug use, shopping, social-networking site use, video-gaming, gambling, pornography consumption), have never been so readily available, easy to engage in, and difficult to resist. Not only is it possible to ...

Tempting behaviors (e.g., alcohol consumption, risk-taking in traffic, smoking, food consumption, drug use, shopping, social-networking site use, video-gaming, gambling, pornography consumption), have never been so readily available, easy to engage in, and difficult to resist. Not only is it possible to experience such rewarding activities any time and in many places, but the high volume of cues (e.g., advertising, cellphone beeps, and thoughts about others’ thrilling experiences) are also there to remind and push people to do so. As a matter of fact, tempting cues are omnipresent in newspapers, TV, radio, events venues, and the Internet. With this around-the-clock availability and persistent cues, there is a growing concern that an increased accessibility to tempting behaviors and substances could have a significant impact on public health. Put differently, reward availability might increase the odds of developing maladaptive habits, that is, automatic behavioral patterns that ignore or at least downplay a growing number of related future-oriented negative consequences.

The understanding of maladaptive incentive habits has been founded on an extensive literature from different areas of the scientific research including works with animals and humans. These works have led to the development of important foundations for the assessment, etiology, consequences, and interventions related to maladaptive habits. This Research Topic aims to extend this knowledge base by including interdisciplinary contributions that could model some of the changes the modern environment has undergone in the last decade regarding rewarding, easy to habitualize, and perhaps addictive, activities. More specifically, we are interested in both empirical and theoretical contributions related to:

1. The assessment of maladaptive habits in both clinical, sub-clinical and the general population (e.g., conceptual models, test and scale validation, phenomenology, epidemiology, diagnostic, cross-cultural studies).
2. The etiology (e.g., conceptual models, socioeconomic, psychological, neurobiological, and psychophysiological factors that could lead to decreased self-control and increased impulsivity in clinical and sub-clinical population).
3. The consequences of maladaptive habits in clinical and sub-clinical populations (e.g., conceptual models, examination of psychological, neurobiological, and psychophysiological deficits, and their relationship with clinical outcomes).
4. Potential prevention and intervention strategies for preventing maladaptive habits and/or harm reduction (e.g., ambulatory and non-ambulatory interventions; with a special focus on new technologies, such as online and phone app interventions).

Article type: original articles, reviews, and commentary paper. We also encourage authors to submit manuscripts describing research designs and study protocols


Keywords: habit, impulsivity, Impulse control, reward dependence, automatic behavior, tempting behavior, executive function, addiction, decision-making, risk-taking, Gambling, self-regulation, problematic internet use, compulsive behavior


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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