Reward expectancy promotes generalized increases in attentional bias for rewarding stimuli

Andrew Jones, Lee Hogarth, Paul Christiansen, Abigail K. Rose, Jasna Martinovic, Matt Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Expectations of drug availability increase the magnitude of attentional biases for drug-related cues. However, it is unknown whether these effects are outcome specific, or whether expectation of a specific reinforcer produces a general enhancement of attentional bias for other types of rewarding cues. In the present study, 31 social drinkers completed an eye-tracking task in which attentional bias for alcohol- and chocolate-related cues was assessed while the expectation of receiving alcohol and chocolate was manipulated on a trial-by-trial basis. Participants showed attentional bias for alcohol and chocolate cues (relative to neutral cues) overall. Importantly, these attentional biases for reward cues were magnified when participants expected to receive alcohol and chocolate, but effects were not outcome specific: The expectation of receiving either alcohol or chocolate increased attentional bias for both alcohol and chocolate cues. Results suggest that anticipation of reward produces a general rather than an outcome-specific enhancement of attentional bias for reward-related stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2333-2342
Number of pages10
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Early online date27 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • alcohol
  • attentional bias
  • expectancy
  • reward


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