Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Standard versus personalized alcohol approach bias measurement


BA assignment

Internal, in cooperation with Tactus Addiction Treatment and Saxion University of Applied Science                          

2 students

Own data collection 

Type of research: Quantitative empirical     

15 EC       




Background: Although currently available treatments for alcohol dependence are evidence-based, success rates are at best modest and still many clients relapse. One of the explanations for this limited effectiveness is that addictive behavior is strongly determined by automatic, unconscious cognitive processes that are difficult to control. One such automatic process is the approach bias towards the substance, the action tendency to approach alcohol stimuli, that develops during a sustained pattern of repeated drinking behavior.

Recently, techniques have become available to retrain established approach biases to a more beneficial avoidance bias. By systematically “pushing away” alcohol pictures on screen and “pulling” non-alcoholic beverage pictures, a reconditioning process occurs. Such cognitive bias modification (CBM) techniques have been shown effective as an add-on to regular CBT treatment. Recently, a mobile application (Breindebaas) has been developed, that enables users to receive CBM training at every place and time they prefer. The new Breindebaas app features training-sessions, but also a measurement tool (approach avoidance task, AAT), that can be used to monitor the progress of the reconditioning process. Being able to monitor reaction times in the mobile application, gives researchers the opportunity to collect information about the change in approach bias of participants and provides more detailed information about the effectiveness of the Breindebaas training.

There are indications that adding the possibility to personalize the Breindebaas training, will keep participants more motivated to use the app. Apart from user’s motivation, we are very much interested in the similarities and/or differences in the personalized versus standard AAT measurement. We are also interested in baseline characteristics that might be related to possible differences.


Research question: Is there a difference in approach bias outcomes between the standard AAT measurement versus the personalized AAT measurement in a heavy drinking population?


Method: 30 alcohol drinking participants are subject to a baseline questionnaire and two bias measurements in the Breindebaas app, one standard AAT measurement and one personalized AAT measurement. Participants will conduct both measurements in the same session with a short break in between. 

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for Dutch speaking Bachelor students. Participants will have to be recruited in public locations (UT and Saxion), so you need an open attitude and sufficient language skills to approach and explain the study to Dutch speaking participants.


First supervisor: Dr. Marloes Postel, department Psychology, Health & Technology & Tactus

Second supervisor: Dr. Marcel Pieterse, department Psychology, Health & Technology

External supervisor: Drs. Melissa Laurens, PhD-student Breindebaas project & Saxion