Reward-related attentional capture predicts non-abstinence during a one-month abstinence challenge

Lucy Albertella, Jessie Vd Hooven, Rob Bovens, Reinout W. Wiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: While it is generally recognised that cognitive attributes can predict behaviour change outcomes in the field of addiction this question is typically studied in treatment seeking samples (to predict treatment outcomes and relapse). However the concept of behaviour change applies to the entire spectrum of addiction-like behaviours and initiatives such as temporary abstinence challenges offer insight into an understudied but equally relevant point of the spectrum. Thus the current study examined whether reward-related attentional capture predicted non-abstinence during IkPas (the Dutch national dry January campaign translated: NoThanks!). Method: Participants included 1130 adults who had complete baseline data and performed above chance level on the cognitive task. Of these 683 participants completed the post-IkPas assessment and were included in the primary analysis. A binary logistic regression examined whether reward-related attentional capture predicted drinking during IkPas controlling for alcohol use at baseline (among other potential confounders). Results: Participants who showed greater reward-related attentional capture before IkPas were more likely to not remain abstinent from drinking during IkPas (p = .014). Findings were replicated using multiple imputation to replace missing data (p = .013). Conclusion: These findings provide important insights into the cognitive mechanisms that support successful behaviour change such as the ability to ignore task-irrelevant reward cues and may inform the development of tools that individuals could use to maximise their likelihood of achieving successful behaviour change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106745
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Alcohol
  • Behaviour change
  • Reward learning
  • Sign-tracking

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