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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Breaking the Cycle of Desire: Mindfulness and Executive Control Weaken the Relation Between an Implicit Measure of Alcohol Valence and Preoccupation With Alcohol-Related Thoughts

Stimuli with strong affective valence capture attention. This can impede the self-regulation of impulses. That is, preoccupation with a tempting stimulus such as alcohol may lead to a continued activation of automatic affective responses to that stimulus, increasing the likelihood of approach and consumption. Self-regulation may, thus, benefit from variables that weaken the relation between salient stimuli and cognitive preoccupation with those stimuli. Recent research shows that mindfulness and executive control reduce the link between automatic affective responses to alcohol and alcohol consumption.

In this study, the authors examined whether mindfulness and executive control may similarly decouple the relation between automatic affective responses and difficulty in disengaging attention from alcohol-related thoughts.

Participants completed measures of trait mindfulness, executive control (a working memory task), automatic alcohol–valence associations, and preoccupation with alcohol-related thoughts.

Results showed that (a) both trait mindfulness and executive control are inversely related with alcohol preoccupation, and (b) both mindfulness and executive control weaken a positive relation between automatic alcohol–valence associations and alcohol preoccupation.

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