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Cue reward salience predicts craving in response to alcohol cues
journal contributionposted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Nicolas KambouropoulosNicolas Kambouropoulos, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger
Many studies have shown that regular drinkers react to alcohol-related stimuli (i.e., cue reactivity) with a variety of appetitive responses, in particular, increased urge to drink. Recent research has focused on accounting for variability in responses to alcohol-related stimuli by examining drinking histories and personality. The aim of the current study was to extend this line of work by investigating the role of reinforcement expectancies (‘cue reward salience’) in alcohol cue reactivity research. In this study, ‘cue reward salience’ refers to the notion that appetitive responses will only ensue if the individual finds the stimulus to be equal to or more rewarding than initial expectations. Sixty-one regular drinkers completed a standard cue reactivity assessment whereby reactions (i.e., urge to drink and affect) to the sight, smell and taste of alcohol are measured and compared to a control condition. Results indicated significant increases in positive urge to drink but no changes in affect. Analyses revealed that drinking level and trait reward sensitivity were significant predictors of the urge to drink response. In addition, ‘cue reward salience’ accounted for significant additional variance in predicting urge to drink alcohol. Discussion focuses on the importance of measuring reinforcement expectancies when conducting cue reactivity studies.