James Bartlett


Emptying the file drawer: Attentional bias in daily and non daily smokers


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Attentional bias towards drug-related cues is a popular area of study. Attentional bias has been tentatively related to craving and abstinence success in smokers. However, research typically focuses on comparing smokers with non-smokers. An increasing number of smokers smoke less than daily, showing few signs of nicotine dependence. Despite this, non-daily smokers find it difficult to quit smoking long-term, meaning it is important to understand factors associated with their substance use. Few studies have compared non-daily to daily smokers on attentional bias. These studies have produced conflicting findings with some showing non-daily smokers displaying greater attentional bias, while others find that daily smokers display greater attentional bias. This presentation reports a file-drawer of three null studies (N = 37; 60; 180 respectively) using the dot probe task as a response time measure of attentional bias. Studies two and three were pre-registered, and performing a mini meta-analysis demonstrates there is no meaningful trait level difference between non-daily and daily smokers. Furthermore, the visual probe task is plagued by a poor level of reliability. These results are consistent with a recent model of attentional bias that suggests there may not be a meaningful trait level difference between groups. Caution should also be exercised when using the visual probe task as a measure of attentional bias in cognitive bias modification.