We examined whether an attentional bias modification (ABM) procedure would produce a persistent and generalizable change in attentional bias, and influence subjective craving and tobacco-seeking behavior, among tobacco smokers.
Seventy-two cigarette smokers were randomly allocated to groups before completing a modified visual probe task in which their attentional bias for smoking-related cues was increased ("attend smoking" group), reduced ("avoid smoking" group), or not manipulated (control group).
The ABM produced the predicted changes in attentional bias, although these effects were short lasting, and there was no evidence of generalization either to novel smoking-related stimuli or to performance on a different measure of attentional bias (the pictorial Stroop task). ABM had no effects on subjective craving or behavioral measures of tobacco seeking.
These results add to a growing body of literature that suggests that a single session of ABM does not produce generalizable effects, and effects on craving and drug seeking are inconsistent across studies. Theoretical implications and directions for future research are discussed.