Alcohol dependence and the alcohol Stroop paradigm: evidence and issues

Joanne Lusher, Chris Chandler, David Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: Firstly to test alcohol abusers attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli. Secondly, to shed light onto other factors that may influence the alcohol Stroop effect by considering variables including mood status in the analyses. Finally, to examine severity of dependence on Stroop performance.

DESIGN: Repeated measures with alcohol versus control group as the between participant factors and within participant factors were the reaction times to different types of stimuli. Standard multiple regression was used to determine predictors of Stroop performance. A repeated measures design was used with severity of dependence as the between participant factors and Stroop reaction times as the within participant factors.

SETTING: South and East London, UK.

PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-four alcoholics in treatment and 64 community controls from general practice participated in the study.

MEASUREMENTS: Alcohol dependence severity was measured using the SADQ, mood was measured with the POMS-SF and a computerised emotional Stroop task was employed to measure attentional bias.

FINDINGS: Regardless of demographic factors and mood status, alcoholics responded significantly slower to alcohol-related than neutral words when compared to controls. When severity of alcohol dependence was used as between participant factors, no significant differences were found with Stroop performance between high and low alcohol severity groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol-related stimuli are distracting to heavy users of alcohol, independent of demographic, mood and dependence status. Findings offer insight into the development of alcohol dependence and the issues that surround the alcohol Stroop paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-31
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Alcoholism
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Cues
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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