Assessment of Automatically Activated Approach–Avoidance Biases Across Appetitive Substances
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Purpose of Review
Automatic approach–avoidance tendencies drive excessive intake of drugs and unhealthy food. Dual-process models of behaviour propose that strong approach biases predict excessive intake when reflective processes are weak. Consistent with theory, early findings indicated that approach biases predicted excessive use of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Given that reviews on approach bias for appetitive substances are lacking, the current review aimed to synthesise the recent findings on automatic approach biases across three of the most commonly assessed substances: alcohol, food and tobacco.
The findings suggest that approach biases exist for a range of substances, are mostly stronger in clinical samples than healthy controls and predict consumption behaviour, albeit under certain conditions.
Approach biases for appetitive substances are related to excessive consumption in line with theoretical premises. Further longitudinal research is needed, particularly in the domains of tobacco and food, to determine the prediction of consumption of these substances over time. Nevertheless, the findings highlight a continued need for approach bias modification techniques aimed at changing this underlying mechanism.
KeywordsApproach–avoidance bias Action tendency Implicit cognition Alcohol Tobacco Food
The authors would like to thank Antonio Verdejo-Garcia for his helpful feedback on an earlier version of this paper.
RSCL was supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (No. 1162031).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Dr. Albertella has nothing to disclose.
Dr. Wiers has nothing to disclose.
Dr. Kakoschke has nothing to disclose.
Dr. Lee reports funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council (No. 1162031) during the conduct of the study. The funders had no input to the study design, data collection, or interpretation, writing of the report, or submission for publication.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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