Assessment of Automatically Activated Approach–Avoidance Biases Across Appetitive Substances

Naomi Kakoschke, Lucy Albertella, Rico S.C. Lee, Reinout W. Wiers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearch

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of Review: Automatic approach–avoidance tendencies drive excessive intake of drugs and unhealthy food. Dual-process models of behaviour propose that strong approach biases predict excessive intake when reflective processes are weak. Consistent with theory, early findings indicated that approach biases predicted excessive use of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Given that reviews on approach bias for appetitive substances are lacking, the current review aimed to synthesise the recent findings on automatic approach biases across three of the most commonly assessed substances: alcohol, food and tobacco. Recent Findings: The findings suggest that approach biases exist for a range of substances, are mostly stronger in clinical samples than healthy controls and predict consumption behaviour, albeit under certain conditions. Summary: Approach biases for appetitive substances are related to excessive consumption in line with theoretical premises. Further longitudinal research is needed, particularly in the domains of tobacco and food, to determine the prediction of consumption of these substances over time. Nevertheless, the findings highlight a continued need for approach bias modification techniques aimed at changing this underlying mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019


  • Action tendency
  • Alcohol
  • Approach–avoidance bias
  • Food
  • Implicit cognition
  • Tobacco

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