Attentional bias in problematic drinkers with and without mild to borderline intellectual disability
Abstract Background Problematic drinkers favour the processing of alcohol‐related stimuli at the cost of other stimuli and also find it difficult to disengage their attention from these stimuli. This is indicative of an attentional bias towards alcohol. The goal of this study was to examine this bias in problematic drinkers with and without mild to borderline intellectual disability (MBID) using both eye tracking methodology and behavioural data (i.e. reaction time (RT) data). Method Participants ( N = 133) were divided into four groups based on (estimated) full scale intelligence quotient (IQ) and severity of alcohol use‐related problems. The severity of substance use‐related problems was assessed with the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). The visual dot probe task was used to measure the attentional bias. We analysed both eye tracking data and behavioural data (i.e. RT data) of the visual dot probe task. Results Problematic drinkers were not more likely than light drinkers to direct their attention towards pictures of alcoholic beverages, did not look at these pictures longer than light drinkers and did also not respond faster than light drinkers to probes replacing pictures of alcoholic beverages. However, the strength of the attentional bias varied profusely. Conclusion Taking the large variability in the strength of the attentional bias and the poor psychometric qualities of the measures into consideration, it is concluded that the use of these measures for clinical purposes is discouraged.
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