Reward-related attentional capture is associated with severity of addictive and obsessive-compulsive behaviors

Psychol Addict Behav. 2019 Aug;33(5):495-502. doi: 10.1037/adb0000484. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


A cue that signals reward can capture attention and elicit approach behaviors in people and animals. The current study examined whether attentional capture by reward-related cues is associated with severity of addiction-related and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Participants were recruited via Mechanical Turk and included 143 adults (Mage = 34 years, SD = 8.5; 43% female) who had endorsed at least 1 addiction-related or obsessive-compulsive behavior in the past month. All assessment components were delivered via the Internet and included questionnaires to assess severity of compulsivity-related problems across addiction-related and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, as well as a visual search task to measure reward-related attentional capture. Reward-related attentional capture was associated with severity of compulsivity, transdiagnostically. These findings have implications for understanding the mechanisms that underlie compulsive behaviors and suggest that reward-related attentional capture is a promising transdiagnostic cognitive risk marker for compulsivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Severity of Illness Index