Functional Substance (ab)use

Drugs are used a means-to-an-end

The use of drugs as a means to enhance performance is no new phenomenon. However, such functional substance (ab)use – primarily in sports and academia - has been controversially discussed both within the general public and the scientific community.

In sports, this behavior is called doping and it is regarded as a form of cheating and is therefore banned. Non-athletes use substances for performance enhancement purposes too. For example, students’ use of Methylphenidate to increase cognitive performance has received considerable attention of late. This behavior is often referred to as Neuroenhancement (NE).

Research on the Psychological drivers on Neuroenhancement

However, such functional substance use is not restricted to academia or sports. It is found in everyday life too. We are interested in the psychological predictors and consequences of doping, NE, and other domains where drugs are used as a means-to-an-end. To investigate this, we use a wide array of psychological theories and methods. We have, for example, investigated how self-control resources affect the decision to consume a presumably neuroenhancing product (read here). Further, we have investigated on how NE is associated with perceived work demands and burnout (read here). To get more comprehensive understanding of the current research on NE, interested persons are referred to a recently published E-Book on the topic (free download). 

In future projects we will further investigate how/if individuals use specific substances as a self-regulation strategy. In addition, we are interested in cultural and individual differences of such drug use patterns.


This line of research is primarily pursued by Wanja Wolff. If you are interested in this topic please feel free to contact him. This line of research lends itself very well for a Bachelor- or Master thesis and I encourage interested students to contact me on that matter (contact).