Approach bias modification affects chocolate consumption

Eva Kemps, Sophie Schumacher, Marika Tiggemann

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Cognitive biases, such as approach bias – the tendency to automatically reach for a desirable target such as chocolate – are at the heart of unwanted (over)consumption. Using an approach-avoidance task, we examined whether cognitive bias modification could reduce approach bias for chocolate and subsequent chocolate consumption.

Methods: Undergraduate women (N = 120; 18-27 years) were randomly assigned to a chocolate approach or chocolate avoid condition, in which they were trained to approach or avoid chocolate pictures by pulling or pushing a joystick, respectively. Chocolate intake was measured by a so-called taste test in which participants tasted and rated a chocolate muffin.

Results: Training had the predicted effect on approach bias, such that participants trained to avoid chocolate developed an avoidance bias away from chocolate stimuli. In addition, participants trained to avoid chocolate ate significantly less of the chocolate muffin in the taste test than participants trained to approach chocolate.

Conclusions: Theoretically, the results lend support to dual process models which conceptualize consumption as being driven by implicit processes such as approach bias. At a more practical level, approach bias modification may be a useful component of interventions designed to curb the (over)consumption of
unhealthy foods.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event50th European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Athens, Greece: Adapting CBT to socially and culturally diverse environments - Athens, Greece
Duration: 2 Sep 20205 Sep 2020 (Event page)


Conference50th European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Athens, Greece
Abbreviated titleEABCT 2020
OtherDear colleagues and friends,

The pandemic of COVID-19, that more or less has struck most of our countries, has influenced deeply our professional, social and personal life.

Since the beginning of the virus outbreak, we were hoping that the situation would ameliorate fast, thus giving us the exiting opportunity to welcome the EABCT community in Athens. However, the uncertainties about a possible second virus outbreak in the fall, and the existing restrictions related to air travel, led us to the decision to “move” the congress online.

We were determined to use every advantage that the technology could offer to us in order to be able to stay connected in safety even if we were not able to meet in person. We firmly believe that in these difficult times the role of the mental health expert is to provide a second line of defense against the pandemic by helping people to deal with the intense negative emotions and the mental exhaustion that both the pandemic and the prolonged isolation are causing. CBT is an evidence based intervention that can be proved to be valuable in our struggle against the effect of the pandemic on the mental health of the population; and we thought our congress could be an important contribution towards this goal.

We would like to thank you all for your continuous inspiring support during the past few months and for your invaluable contribution to the success of the congress.

Fragiskos Gonidakis
Congress President
Internet address


  • 50th European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies Conference
  • Adapting CBT to socially and culturally diverse environments
  • EABCT 2020
  • European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies
  • Greek Association for Behavioural Modification and Research
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • conference abstract
  • virtual conference
  • approach bias
  • cognitive bias
  • Approach-avoidance task
  • Cognitive bias modification
  • Dual Process Model
  • dual process theory


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