Metacognitions in desire thinking: a preliminary investigation

Behav Cogn Psychother. 2010 Oct;38(5):629-37. doi: 10.1017/S1352465810000317. Epub 2010 Jul 29.


Background: Desire thinking is defined as a voluntary thinking process orienting to prefigure images, information and memories about positive target-related experience. Recent research has highlighted the role of desire thinking in the maintenance of addictive, eating and impulse control disorders. Currently little is known about metacognitions in desire thinking.

Aim: To investigate: (1) the presence and content of desire thinking during a desire experience; (2) the presence of metacognitive beliefs in desire thinking; (3) the goal of desire thinking; (4) attentional focus during desire thinking; and (5) the impact of desire thinking on craving.

Method: Twenty-four individuals with a diagnosis of either alcohol abuse, bulimia nervosa, pathological gambling or smoking dependence were assessed using a semi-structured interview.

Results: Findings indicated that participants engaged in desire thinking and endorsed both positive and negative metacognitive beliefs about this process. The goal of desire thinking was to regulate internal states. Participants also reported that during a desire experience their attentional focus was continuously shifting between internal state and external context and that engaging in desire thinking increased craving.

Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary evidence that metacognitions play a role in desire thinking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / rehabilitation
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Gambling / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Thinking*
  • Young Adult