Mikołaj Czyż
Psychotherapy and Seminars
02 16 2017

The experiment on addictions early results “What am I doing this for?”

The issue of addiction can be examined in the context of experiences which are supported or limited by a substance or behavior. Finding out about these experiences and states and how they relate to each other is important in understanding the processes taking place in an individual’s psychology, in diagnosis and psychotherapy (read about addictive tendencies).

Online research was carried out into the nature of addictions through experiences, and the preliminary results are presented below.


The respondents gave information about the substance (eg. cigarettes) or behavior they use (eg. food), and about the experience they hope to have by doing this (eg. labels: #relaxation, #pleasure). They also provided information about the unwanted experience they wanted to avoid by using the substance/behavior (eg. #stress, #sadness).

The interactive graph below presents the connections between the substances or behaviors and the labels for desired and unwanted experiences. The dataset that was used has 2885 records (n = 2885). You can read more about the project here and the online form is available here.

The relationship between substances and experiences / proportions

The perimeter of the diagram represents substances and behaviors (clockwise from the most to least common), and the diameter of the circles inside represents how often the particular experience occurs in the research as a whole, while the width of the connections between the substance and the experience represents how often the experience occurs in relationship to a particular substance. The illustration presents the most popular substances and experience labels (>10).

Coincidence graph

A presentation of the relationship between addiction tendencies (substances or behavior) and the desired (“for”) or unwanted (“againts”) experiences in the form of a tag cloud. Similar labels are found closer together, forming clusters.

Data visualization courtesy of Piotr Migdał (source).


The respondents were English-speakers from all over the world, men and women (50.45% to 49.54%) with a dominant age group of 18-24 (33.83%), and an interest in various aspects of the addiction phenomena.

addictions / demographics
Respondents age. Source: Google Analytics.

Other directions

The data collected makes it possible to research a wide range of other relationships between variables. The examples below illustrate the relationships between the labels for opposite experiences.

Antagonists relaxation
Distribution of experiences/labels which contrast with the label #relaxation (relative frequency of occurrence).
Antagonists pleasure
Experiences which contrast with the label #pleasure
Antagonists loneliness
Experiences which contrast with the label #loneliness
Antagonists boredom
Experiences which contrast with the label #boredom

If you have thoughts or feedback please email me directly.