Both implicit and explicit processes are important in the development of addictive behavior. Implicit cognition is important to evaluate because it may predict individuals who are at a high risk of relapse that may not be screened for by using self-reporting. Knowledge of implicit functioning may lead to development of interventions that target both levels of cognition rather than explicit alone, and therefore have better results. Also, modification of these interventions according to the individual may be possible through knowledge of implicit functions.
As such addiction is characterized by disinhibition and loss of control, even though intentions to restrain might be present. This influence on cognition may in turn be dependant on the level of intact executive functioning. A study done in the Netherlands regarding alcohol addiction showed that ‘Implicit positive-arousal cognitions predicted alcohol use after 1 month more strongly in students with lower levels of working memory capacity, whereas explicit positive-arousal cognitions predicted 1-month follow-up alcohol use more strongly in students with higher levels of working memory capacity’. (Thrush) This has significance as it indicates that different interventions may be needed for different groups of people.
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