The effects of alcohol odor cues on food and alcohol attentional bias, cravings, and consumption

Kenny A Karyadi, Purdue University


In order to elucidate the role of classical conditioning in food and alcohol co-consumption, the present study examined: (1) the effects of alcohol odor cues on alcohol and food cravings and attentional bias (bias in selective attention toward either food or alcohol pictures relative to neutral pictures); and (2) the role of alcohol odor cue elicited cravings and attentional biases on subsequent consumption. Participants (n = 77; mean age = 30.84, SD = 9.46; 51.9% female, 83.1% Caucasian) first completed the lab portion of the study. In this portion, they were exposed to alcohol and neutral odorants, after which their food and alcohol cravings and attentional bias were assessed. Participants then received an online survey the next day, on which they reported their level of food and alcohol consumption following the lab portion of the study. Using repeated measures analysis of covariance, alcohol odor cues were differentially effective in increasing food and alcohol attentional bias and cravings ( Fs = 0.06 to 2.72, ps = 0.03 to 0.81). Using logistic and multiple regressions, alcohol odor cue elicited alcohol attentional bias, food attentional bias, and food cravings were associated with later alcohol consumption, but not with later food consumption or concurrent consumption (βs = -0.28 to 0.48, ps = 0.02 to 0.99; Exp(B)s = 0.95 to 1.83, ps = 0.33 to 0.91). Overall, alcohol odor cues can become conditioned stimuli that elicit conditioned food-related and alcohol-related responses, both of which persist long enough to motivate later alcohol consumption; however, these conditioned responses might not persist long enough to motivate later food or concurrent consumption. These findings serve as a first step in clarifying the role of classical conditioning in concurrent consumption. In particular, they suggest that additional empirical investigations are needed to: (1) clarify the classical conditioning mechanisms underlying concurrent consumption; and (2) examine whether interventions targeting classical conditioning mechanisms are effective for reducing alcohol use.




Cyders, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

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