Where’s that wine? A pre-registered study assessing the utility of visual search to measure alcohol-related attentional bias.

Abstract

Background & Aims: Experimental research consistently shows that individuals who regularly consume alcohol prioritise their attention towards alcohol-related cues. Many tasks that measure alcohol-related attentional bias (AB), however, are limited by their low internal reliability and the artificial manner in which stimuli are shown. In a bid to overcome these limitations, the current study employed a visual search paradigm to examine whether heavy social drinkers exhibit AB towards alcoholic relative to non-alcoholic stimuli. It also assessed whether self-reported alcohol consumption, drinking motives or subjective craving predicted alcohol-related AB. Method: Ninety-nine participants (Mage = 20.77, MAUDIT= 12.89) completed a Visual Conjunction Search Task in which they were instructed to identify alcoholic (wine, beer) or non-alcoholic (lemonade, cola) targets in an array of matching and mismatching distractors. They also completed questionnaires probing their alcohol consumption behaviours. Findings: Participants were significantly faster to detect alcoholic relative to non-alcoholic targets, which was predicted by self-reported alcohol consumption and related behaviours (AUDIT scores). Subjective craving and drinking motives did not significantly account for additional explained variance. Conclusions: Alcohol-related stimuli capture heavy social drinker’s attention, which may present as a risk factor for continued (mis)use. Visual search paradigms appear to offer a highly reliable assessment of alcohol-related AB over other experimental paradigms in alcohol research.

Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Event Title: Early Career Alcohol Research Symposium, Sheffield Alcohol Research Group
Event Type: Other
Event Dates: 2020-07-07 - 2020-07-08
Uncontrolled Keywords: alcohol,visual search,attentional bias,drinking motives,subjective cravings
PURE Output Type: Abstract
Published Date: 2020-07-08
Authors: Pennington, Charlotte Rebecca ( 0000-0002-5259-642X)
Shaw, Daniel Joel ( 0000-0003-1139-8301)
Adams, Jennifer
Kavanagh, Phoebe
Reed, Holly
Robinson, Madeleine
Shave, Emily
White, Hollie

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