The Cognitive Approach

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The Cognitive Approach

Initiation - A01

  • Expectancy plays an important role in the initiation of addictive behaviour.
  • The benefits of the activity are over estimated + people are more likely to become addicted if they have cognitive biases which minimise the negative consequences of the behaviour.
  • Addicts often have high levels of impulsivity - placing a higher priority on present excitement than on future consequences (cognitive myopia).
  • The addiction is used as a form of self-medication - believing it will help them cope with specific problems. The addiction may help people to cope by reducing negative mood states (e.g. boredom) + increasing positive moods (e.g. excitement).

Maintenance - A01

  • Addictive behaviour is maintained because addicts have cognitive biases which emphasise the positive aspects + minimise the negative consequences of the behaviour.
  • Addicts expect that abstinence from the behaviour will lead to negative consequences, meaning they will continue with the addiction.
  • Addicts also have a high sense of self-efficacy, believing that they are in control of their addiction + would be able to give it up easily if they wanted to.

Relapse - A01

  • When a person gives up an addiction they feel increased self-efficacy over their behaviour.
  • High risk emotional states/situations can pose a threat to a person's sense of control + can lead to a relapse.
  • The cognitive model suggests relapse can be minimised by understanding the person's beliefs about what constitutes high risk situations, enhancing the person's coping skills, increasing self-efficacy + restructuring their perceptions of the relapse process.

Application to Smoking

Initiation - A02

People who start smoking have expectancies that smoking will have positive effects on their lives, for example stress reduction, weight loss or improved mood; cognitive biases minimise negative effects of smoking.

BRANDON + BAKER (1991) carried out questionnaire study of psychology students. There is evidence that people start smoking because they are bored + think that smoking will raise their mood - providing evidence for the importance of expectancy.

Maintenance -


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