, Volume 180, Issue 1, pp 63–72

Alcohol increases cognitive biases for smoking cues in smokers

Original Investigation



Alcohol increases the motivation to smoke, possibly because it increases the incentive motivational properties of smoking cues.


We examined whether alcohol would increase attentional, approach, and evaluative biases for smoking-related cues in a sample of daily cigarette smokers.


The study used a visual probe task with eye movement recording to investigate biases in visual orienting to smoking-related cues. A stimulus–response compatibility task was used to assess approach tendencies for smoking-related cues, and an explicit rating task was used to assess the perceived valence of smoking-related cues. Participants completed the tasks in two sessions, once after consumption of 0.4 g/kg alcohol and once after consumption of a non-alcoholic drink.


Alcohol increased the maintenance of attention on smoking cues (evident from gaze duration and a reaction time index of attentional bias), the perceived pleasantness of smoking cues, and cigarette craving, relative to the non-alcoholic drink. However, alcohol had no effect on the initial shifting of gaze to smoking cues or on the tendency to approach smoking cues.


These results suggest that, in smokers, ingestion of a moderate dose of alcohol increases the propensity for smoking-related cues to hold attention and makes those cues seem more attractive, which is consistent with alcohol increasing the ‘incentive salience’ of smoking cues.


Smoking Alcohol Attentional bias Evaluative bias Drug cues Craving 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Emotion and Motivation, School of PsychologyUniversity of SouthamptonHighfieldUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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