The effect of approach/avoidance training on alcohol consumption is mediated by change in alcohol action tendency
Number of pages
SourcePLoS One, 9, 1, (2014), article e85855
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
SW OZ BSI KLP
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Training people to respond to alcohol images by making avoidance joystick movements can affect subsequent alcohol consumption, and has shown initial efficacy as a treatment adjunct. However, the mechanisms that underlie the training's efficacy are unknown. The present study aimed to determine 1) whether the training's effect is mediated by a change in action tendency or a change in selective attention, and 2) whether the training's effect is moderated by individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC). Three groups of social drinkers (total N = 74) completed either approach-alcohol training, avoid-alcohol training or a sham-training on the Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT). Participants' WMC was assessed prior to training, while their alcohol-related action tendency and selective attention were assessed before and after the training on the recently developed Selective-Attention/Action Tendency Task (SA/ATT), before finally completing an alcohol taste-test. There was no significant main effect of approach/avoidance training on alcohol consumption during the taste-test. However, there was a significant indirect effect of training on alcohol consumption mediated by a change in action tendency, but no indirect effect mediated by a change in selective attention. There was inconsistent evidence of WMC moderating training efficacy, with moderation found only for the effect of approach-alcohol training on the AAT but not on the SA/ATT. Thus approach/avoidance training affects alcohol consumption specifically by changing the underlying action tendency. Multiple training sessions may be required in order to observe more substantive changes in drinking behaviour.
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