The Cognitive Model of Addiction

The Cognitive Model is much easier to understand in terms of BEHAVIOURAL ADDICTIONS, such as gambling, than to CHEMICAL ADDICTIONS, such as smoking and alcoholism.


  • Faulty Thinking
  • Irrational Biases
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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 05-04-13 17:33

Cost-Benefit Analysis

  • Implies rational thinking
  • The individual weighs up the pros and cons and acts accordingly. 
  • Need to bear in mind the addict's view is not the same as the onlooker's.

This explains why pregnant women are often able to give up smoking when they find out they're pregnant but then start again as soon as the baby is born. While they're pregnant the costs of smoking outweighs the benefits. However that changes as soon as the baby is born. (This goes against the biological model)

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Irrational Biases

In Gamblers

Griffiths 1994

  • Hindsight Bias - 'I had a feeling it wasn't going to pay out tonight' 

The addict wants to have a sense of control, it is an illusion even though the game is based on chance. 

  • Personification - 'This fruit machine isn't giving me a chance.'

They think: if they win - skill. 

lose - bad luck.

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Faulty Thinking

Can justify your own choices

'My nan smoked until she was 98 and so I'll be alright...' 

'I'm just a social smoker so it doesn't count'. 

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Impaired Control

Addicts consciously try to restrain their behaviour, yet this requires mental effort (which can often fail).

May be related to personality traits (e.g. impulsiveness).

The behaviour becomes automatic, and they must give it attention in order to stop. (see next page) 

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The Cognitive Explanation

  • Cognitive Processing Model

- Behaviours become automatic, in the same way as driving does. 

- However, this doesn't explain cravings... cravings aren't there when a behaviour is automatic, it's only when they try to stop. 

  • Cognitive Myopia

-  They only see the short term gain, long term damage

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