Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Light social drinkers are more distracted by irrelevant information from an induced attentional bias than heavy social drinkers

Knight, Helen, Smith, Daniel T., Knight, David C. and Ellison, Amanda (2018) Light social drinkers are more distracted by irrelevant information from an induced attentional bias than heavy social drinkers. Psychopharmacology, 235 (10). pp. 2967-2978. ISSN 0033-3158

Item Type: Article


It is well established that alcoholics and heavy social drinkers show a bias of attention towards alcohol-related items. Previous research suggests that there is a shared foundation of attentional bias, which is linked to attentional control settings. Specifically, attentional bias relates to a persistent selection of a Feature Search Mode which prioritises attentional bias-related information for selection and processing. However, no research has yet examined the effect of pre-existing biases on the development of an additional attentional bias. This paper seeks to discover how pre-existing biases affect the formation of a new, additional attentional bias. 25 heavy and 25 light social drinkers, with and without a pre-existing bias to alcohol related items respectively, had an attentional bias towards the colour green induced via an information sheet. They then completed a series of one-shot change detection tasks. In the critical task, green items were present but task-irrelevant. Irrelevant green items caused significantly more interference for light than heavy social drinkers. This somewhat counter intuitive result is likely due to heavy drinkers having more experience in exerting cognitive control over attentional biases, something not previously observed in investigations of the effects of holding an attentional bias. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that an established attentional bias significantly modulates future behaviour.

HeavyLightDrinkers_SURE.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (393kB) | Preview

More Information

Depositing User: Helen Knight


Item ID: 9767
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0033-3158
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Helen Knight: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2018 08:22
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 10:30


Author: Helen Knight ORCID iD
Author: Daniel T. Smith
Author: David C. Knight
Author: Amanda Ellison

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing
Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Psychology


Psychology > Cognitive Behaviour
Sciences > Health Sciences
Sciences > Pharmacy and Pharmacology

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item