Beer? Over here! Examining attentional bias towards alcohol in a visual search eye-tracking task

Charlotte Pennington, Adam Qureshi, Rebecca L Monk, Derek Heim

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


A wealth of research indicates that heavy social drinkers demonstrate attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli. Many studies, however, employ experimental tasks that expose drinkers to single-stimulus targets (e.g., anti-saccade task), which is not akin to a real life environment whereby multiple alcoholic and non-alcoholic cues are simultaneously present. In a novel approach, the current study adapted a visual search task to examine attentional bias towards alcohol.Thirty participants performed a visual conjunction search task, which recorded both eye movements and behavioural responses. They also completed self-report measures of alcohol consumption and trait effortful control. During experimental trials, participants searched for an alcohol-related target (i.e., beer bottle) in an array of either appetitive non-alcoholic (water) or non-appetitive non-alcoholic distractors (detergent). In control trials, they searched for non-alcoholic appetitive and non-appetitive targets in an array of alcoholic distractors. Results suggest that participants identify alcoholic and non-alcoholic targets quicker than non-alcoholic, non-appetitive targets. Moreover, they demonstrate attentional bias towards alcoholic stimuli, with slower detection of non-appetitive targets when the distractor is alcoholic, and faster detection of alcoholic stimuli when the distractor is non-appetitive. In real life environments, such as pubs and bars, people may be drawn to alcohol-related cues; attentional bias may therefore be one mechanism driving alcohol consumption behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2018
EventSPR Annual Meeting, 2018 - Quebec City, Canada
Duration: 3 Oct 20187 Oct 2018


ConferenceSPR Annual Meeting, 2018
CityQuebec City


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