eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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vol. 32
Original paper

Spatial anticipatory attentional bias for alcohol: A preliminary report on reliability and associations with risky drinking

Thomas Edward Gladwin

  1. Department of Psychology & Counselling, University of Chichester, United Kingdom
Alcohol Drug Addict 2019; 32 (1): 63-70
Online publish date: 2019/06/06
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Although risky drinking and alcohol dependence have been associated with spatial attentional biases, concerns have been raised about the reliability of the frequently-used dot--probe task. A form of anticipatory bias related to predictive cues has been found to be related to alcohol-related processes, and to have high reliability in the context of threat stimuli. It remains to be determined whether this anticipatory attentional bias also has good reliability for alcohol stimuli. Further, correlations with drinking-related individual differences need to be replicated.

Material and methods
Eighty three healthy adult participants were included, who completed the cued Visual Probe Task (cVPT) and questionnaires on risky drinking (AUDIT-C), drinking motives (DMQ-R), reasons to abstain from drinking (RALD) and alcohol craving (ACQ). The task (cVPT) used a 400 ms Cue-Stimulus Interval based on previous work. The Spearman-Brown split-half reliability of reaction time-based bias scores was calculated. The within-subject effect of probe location (predicted-alcohol versus predicted-non-alcohol) was tested using a paired-sample t-test. Correlations were calculated between bias scores and questionnaire scales; tests were one-sided for predicted effects and two-sided for exploratory effects.

The reliability was 0.81 (0.74 after outlier removal). There was no overall bias. While a predicted correlation between risky drinking and anticipatory bias towards alcohol was found, there were no other predicted or exploratory effects.

The anticipatory attentional bias for alcohol is a reliably measurable individual difference, with some evidence that it is associated with risky drinking.

Implicit behavioural measures of spatial attentional bias can, in principle, achieve high reliability. Further study of attentional biases using predictive cues would appear to be promising.


Dot-probe task, Attentional bias, Anticipatory attentional bias, Alcohol, Reliability, Risky alcohol use

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