, Volume 185, Issue 2, pp 169–178 | Cite as

Alcohol attentional bias: drinking salience or cognitive impairment?

  • Javad Salehi Fadardi
  • W. Miles CoxEmail author
Original Investigation



This study evaluated whether alcohol attentional bias is an artifact of excessive drinkers’ impaired cognitive functioning, which adversely affects their performance on the classic Stroop test (a measure of inhibitory control) and the Shipley Institute of Living Scale (SILS; a measure of verbal and abstraction ability). Both tests measure aspects of executive cognitive functioning (ECF).


Social drinkers (N=87) and alcohol-dependent drinkers (N=47) completed a measure of alcohol consumption, classic and alcohol-related Stroop tests, and the SILS.


A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed that the dependent drinkers were poorer on the cognitive measures (SILS scores and classic Stroop interference) and had greater alcohol attentional bias than the social drinkers. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) in which the cognitive measures were controlled showed that the dependent drinkers’ greater alcohol attentional bias was not an artifact of their poorer cognitive performance.


The results are discussed in terms of cognitive–motivational models, which suggest that excessive drinking sensitizes alcohol abusers’ attentional responsiveness to alcohol-related stimuli to a degree that exceeds the adverse effects of alcohol on their general cognitive functioning.


Alcohol abuse Attentional bias Stroop paradigm Executive cognitive functioning Cognitive bias Current concern 


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© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of Wales, BangorBangorUK
  2. 2.Ferdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran

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