Reward-Related Attentional Capture Is Associated With Severity of Addictive and Obsessive–Compulsive Behaviors

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A cue that signals reward can capture attention and elicit approach behaviors in people and animals. The current study examined whether attentional capture by reward-related cues is associated with severity of addiction-related and obsessive–compulsive behaviors. Participants were recruited via Mechanical Turk and included 143 adults (Mage = 34 years, SD = 8.5; 43% female) who had endorsed at least 1 addiction-related or obsessive–compulsive behavior in the past month. All assessment components were delivered via the Internet and included questionnaires to assess severity of compulsivity-related problems across addiction-related and obsessive–compulsive behaviors, as well as a visual search task to measure reward-related attentional capture. Reward-related attentional capture was associated with severity of compulsivity, transdiagnostically. These findings have implications for understanding the mechanisms that underlie compulsive behaviors and suggest that reward-related attentional capture is a promising transdiagnostic cognitive risk marker for compulsivity.

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