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Title: Approach and avoidance tendencies with alcohol-related stimuli in young heavy drinkers
Author: Italiano, T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 3253
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Aims: Drinking behaviours are regulated by motivational tendencies – fast and automatic responses to alcohol related cues - and by a reflective system which can inhibit impulsive actions. While heavy drinkers tend to display an approach tendency, an avoidance tendency has been promoted by the Cognitive Bias Modification, a training that has reduced relapse rate in individuals treated for alcohol dependence. This study investigates motivational tendencies in a group of young heavy drinkers and matched controls. Methods: Participants were selected on the basis of their scores on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and 23 heavy drinkers were compared with 20 social drinkers on a Relevant-Stimulus Response Compatibility (R-SRC) task. The R-SRC is a measure of automatic motivational tendencies and it requires to move a manikin away or towards alcohol related and neutral pictures on a computer screen. Neuropsychological tests and the Attentional Control Scale (ACS) were also administered. Results: Heavy drinkers and controls differed in their responses on the R-SRC task, with heavy drinkers being faster in approaching alcohol related images. There were minimal differences in working memory and attention between the two groups, while heavy drinkers reported lower scores than social drinkers on the ACS. Conclusions: Heavy drinkers showed an approach tendency towards alcohol-related cues. This might reflect motivational tendencies towards alcohol although these could have also been influenced by social desirability effects. Group differences in ACS scores might reflect heavy drinkers’ awareness of alcohol-related cognitive decline. Motivational tendencies and drinking patterns might increase the risk of alcohol dependence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available