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The Effect of Self-Control on Attentional Bias for Alcohol Cues in Male Heavy Drinkers


  • The authors are grateful to the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO Grant 040.11.015) and the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant and Presidential Professorship funds.

Hanneke A. Teunissen, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Post Box 9102, 6500 HC Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Attentional bias for alcohol cues increases craving and subsequent alcohol consumption. Override processes can be used to disengage attention from alcohol cues. This requires self-control and implies that depletion of self-control would impair the ability to disengage attention from alcohol cues. This study examined the effect of self-control on attentional bias among male heavy drinkers. To manipulate self-control resources, an expression control task was used. Attentional bias was measured with a visual probe task. The Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS; Anton, Moak, & Latham, 1996) assessed the urge to drink and persistent thoughts about alcohol. The results suggest that participants who scored relatively high on the OCDS showed more attentional bias after controlled emotional expression, compared to free emotional expression.