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Beer? Over here! Examining attentional bias towards alcohol in a visual search eye-tracking task

Pennington, C. R; Qureshi, A. W; Monk, R. L; Heim, D


A. W Qureshi

R. L Monk

D Heim


A wealth of research indicates that heavy social drinkers demonstrate attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli. Many studies, however, employ experimental tasks that expose drinkers to single-stimulus targets (e.g., anti-saccade task), which is not akin to a real life environment whereby multiple alcoholic and non-alcoholic cues are simultaneously present. In a novel approach, the current study adapted a visual search task to examine attentional bias towards alcohol.Thirty participants performed a visual conjunction search task, which recorded both eye movements and behavioural responses. They also completed self-report measures of alcohol consumption and trait effortful control. During experimental trials, participants searched for an alcohol-related target (i.e., beer bottle) in an array of either appetitive non-alcoholic (water) or non-appetitive non-alcoholic distractors (detergent). In control trials, they searched for non-alcoholic appetitive and non-appetitive targets in an array of alcoholic distractors. Results suggest that participants identify alcoholic and non-alcoholic targets quicker than non-alcoholic,non-appetitive targets. Moreover, they demonstrate attentional bias towards alcoholic stimuli, with slower detection of non-appetitive targets when the distractor is alcoholic, and faster detection of alcoholic stimuli when the distractor is non-appetitive.
In real life environments, such as pubs and bars, people may be drawn to alcohol-related cues; attentional bias may therefore be one mechanism driving alcohol consumption behaviours.


Pennington, C. R., Qureshi, A. W., Monk, R. L., & Heim, D. (2018, October). Beer? Over here! Examining attentional bias towards alcohol in a visual search eye-tracking task. Poster presented at Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) Annual Meeting

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) Annual Meeting
Start Date Oct 4, 2018
End Date Oct 7, 2018
Acceptance Date Oct 4, 2018
Publication Date Oct 4, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords eye-tracking, attentional bias, alcohol
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Society for Psychophysiological Research