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Addiction. 2012 Jun;107(6):1074-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03781.x. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Interactive effects of approach motivational intensity and alcohol cues on the scope of perceptual attention.

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1
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4235, USA. joshua.hicks@gmail.com

Abstract

AIMS:

Many theoretical perspectives suggest that alcohol-related stimuli bear on attentional processes. Building upon these ideas and recent advances regarding the attention-constricting impact of approach motivational states, we predicted that mere exposure to alcohol-related images would suffice to reduce the breadth of attention among individuals who possessed a strong motivation to consume alcohol.

DESIGN:

Two studies exposed participants to alcohol and neutral cues prior to assessing attention structure. In both studies, measures of alcohol use, negative alcohol expectancies, trait approach motivation and alcohol-related approach motivation were assessed.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:

Study 1 comprised 102 undergraduates and study 2 comprised 161 undergraduates. Studies were conducted at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

MEASUREMENTS:

In both studies, participants were briefly exposed to pictures of various stimuli (alcohol versus neutral pictures). After each picture was displayed, participants completed a trial assessing attentional focus.

FINDINGS:

After controlling for relevant covariates, both studies demonstrated that exposure to alcohol-related pictures led to a narrowing of attentional focus among individuals who possessed a strong motivation to use alcohol. Exposure to neutral pictures, however, did not interact with alcohol-related motivation to influence attentional focus.

CONCLUSIONS:

Alcohol cues narrow attentional breadth for individuals who are motivated to consume alcohol, suggesting a non-pharmacological means in which alcohol produces a narrow mindset. Alcohol cues may contribute to cognitive and behavioral deficits, as well as drinking behaviors, in part, because they lead to the inability to process a broad range of information in the environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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