Alcohol homograph priming in alcohol-dependent inpatiens

M.L. Woud, E. Salemink, Thomas E Gladwin, Reinout W Wiers, Eni S. Becker, J. Lindenmeyer, Mike Rinck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Alcohol dependency is characterized by alcohol-related interpretation biases (IBs): Individuals with high levels of alcohol consumption generate more alcohol-related than alcohol-unrelated interpretations in response to ambiguous alcohol-related cues. However, a response bias could be an alternative account, meaning that individuals with high levels of alcohol consumption generate more alcohol-related IBs because of a greater baseline tendency to endorse alcohol-related responses.

To test this alternative explanation, the present study employed a homograph-priming task, reliability of which was also examined. The sample included 577 clinically diagnosed alcohol-dependent inpatients and 61 control inpatients. Participants completed a homograph priming task (primes: homographs with and without an alcohol-related meaning, target words: alcohol and soft drinks) before commencing their behavioral cognitive treatment at a rehabilitation clinic.

Contrary to our expectations, we did not find an enhanced priming effect in alcohol-dependent inpatients. Moreover, there was no correlation between the priming score and levels of harmful drinking (AUDIT scores).

The data provide limited support for the existence of alcohol-related IBs, possibly because of the low reliability of the priming task, the features of the task, and the study’s design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
JournalSucht: Zeitschrift für Wissenschaft und Praxis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • priming task
  • ambiguity
  • alcohol associations
  • intepretation bias
  • alcohol dependency


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