Reward-related attentional capture is associated with severity of addictive and obsessive-compulsive behaviors

Lucy Albertella, Mike E. Le Pelley, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Fred Westbrook, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Rebecca Segrave, Rico Lee, Daniel Pearson, Murat Yucel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


A cue that signals reward can capture attention and elicit approach behaviors in people and animals. The current study examined whether attentional capture by reward-related cues is associated with severity of addiction-related and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Participants were recruited via Mechanical Turk and included 143 adults (Mage = 34 years, SD = 8.5; 43% female) who had endorsed at least 1 addiction-related or obsessive-compulsive behavior in the past month. All assessment components were delivered via the Internet and included questionnaires to assess severity of compulsivity-related problems across addictionrelated and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, as well as a visual search task to measure reward-related attentional capture. Reward-related attentional capture was associated with severity of compulsivity, transdiagnostically. These findings have implications for understanding the mechanisms that underlie compulsive behaviors and suggest that reward-related attentional capture is a promising transdiagnostic cognitive risk marker for compulsivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Addiction
  • Compulsivity
  • Reward learning

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