Addiction: Cognitive Approach

HideShow resource information

Cognitive Approach to Addiction


  • Expectancy important role in initiation of an addiction.
  • Benefits of activity over estimated and people more likely to become addicted if they have cognitive biases that minimise negative consequences.
  • Addicts often have high levels of impulsivity - placing higher priority on present excitement than on future consequences (cognitive myopia)
  • Addiction a form of self-medication
  • Addiction may help people cope by reducing negative mood states (e.g boredom) and increasing positive moods (e.g excitement)


  • Addictive behaviour maintained because addicts have cognitive biases which emphasise positive aspects of behaviour and minimise negative consequences.
  • Addicts have expectancies that abstinence from addiction will lead to negative consequences so they continue with addiction.
  • Addicts have high sense of self-efficacy - believe they are in control of addiction and would be able to give up easily if they wanted to.


  • When a person gives up an addiction they should begin to experience increased self-efficacy/mastery over behaviour.
  • High risk emotional states/situations/events can pose a threat to the person's sense of control and lead to relapse - particularly if the person believes that giving up has negative consequences.
  • The cognitive model suggests relapse can be minimised by understanding the person's beliefs about what constitutes a high-risk situation, enhance coping skills for those situations, increasing their self-efficacy and restructuring their perceptions of the relapse process.


  • Difficult to separate effects of learning/association from cognitive factors
  • Convincing evidence from biological approach suggests that people may have a biological predisposition to developing an addiction
  • Hard to access people's thought processes, so difficult to gather cognitive evidence
  • CBT is an effective treatment for addiction. This shows that irrational thought processes are an important element of addiction.
  • Best explanation: Biopsychosocial model 

             - Biological vulnerability involving brain's reward systems

             - Family/peer attitudes that support addictive behaviour

             - High levels of


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Addictive behaviour resources »