The Drink Remains the Same: Implicit Positive Associations in High But Not Moderate or Non-caffeine Users

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Research has demonstrated that high, but not low caffeine users exhibit an attentional bias to caffeine related stimuli. Separately, the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) has been used to investigate the valence of implicit cognitions to drugs with some contradictory findings, though no work has addressed this issue with respect to caffeine. Here, we examined whether attentional bias would be found in high and moderate caffeine users using a pictorial version of the dot-probe task. A second aim was to explore differences in implicit cognitions between users and non-users. Fifteen high, moderate and non-caffeine users completed a picture dot-probe, IAT, and mood questionnaire following overnight caffeine deprivation. In the IAT, results demonstrated positive associations to caffeine related words for high but not moderate or non-users. Lower ratings for calmness were evident in both groups of caffeine compared to non-users. Dot-probe findings revealed an attentional bias among moderate caffeine users and non-users but not heavy users. The observed positive implicit associations to caffeine suggest that drug acceptability is the key in such perceptions.

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