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date: 22 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the concept of addiction and, by comparing aspects of virtual and non-virtual addictions with each other, discusses whether it is appropriate to conceive of people as being addicted to the use of virtual environments and how prominent such addictions might be. Psychological mechanisms that are commonly held to result in addiction, such as variable-ratio reinforcement schedules, immersion, the need for psychological escape and mood modification, are considered. The chapter ends by discussing some emerging ideas as to how specific features and affordances of social network sites (SNSs) and graphical worlds are used to engage in identity analysis and exploration, and how such usage might result in addiction, often via the previously considered mechanisms.

Keywords: addiction, escape, immersion, mood modification, SNS, graphical worlds, self, identity

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