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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2019 Dec 16;14(12):e0226387.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226387. eCollection 2019.

Cognitive Bias Modification for Energy Drink Cues

Free PMC article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Cognitive Bias Modification for Energy Drink Cues

Eva Kemps et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Energy drink consumption is increasing worldwide, especially among young adults, and has been associated with physical and mental health problems. In two experiments, we tested the prediction that energy drink consumption is in part driven by biased cognitive processing (attentional and approach biases), with a view to modifying these to reduce consumption. Young adults (18-25 years) who regularly consume energy drinks completed the dot probe (Exp.1; N = 116) or approach-avoidance task (Exp.2; N = 110) to measure attentional and approach bias for energy drink cues, respectively. They then underwent a cognitive bias modification protocol where they were trained to direct their attention away from pictures of energy drink cans (Exp.1), or to push a joystick away from themselves in response to these pictures (Exp.2). Following a post-training assessment of attentional (Exp.1) or approach bias (Exp.2), energy drink consumption was measured by an ostensible taste test. Regular energy drink consumers showed both an attentional and an approach bias for energy drink cues. Cognitive bias modification successfully reduced both biases. However, neither attentional nor approach bias modification significantly reduced energy drink intake. The results lend some support to incentive sensitisation theory which emphasises the role of biased decision-making processes related to addictive behaviours.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Mean attentional bias scores (with standard errors) for the training conditions (attend, avoid) at pre- and post-training in Experiment 1; * p < .05.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Mean approach bias scores (with standard errors) for the training conditions (approach, avoid) at pre- and post-training in Experiment 2; * p < .05.

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Grant support

EK and MT received funding from the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project scheme (project number DP180100545; to support this research. The ARC had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.