Cognitive inflexibility moderates the association between reward-related attentional capture and compulsivity-related problems transdiagnostically
Background: The current study examines whether reward-related attentional capture and cognitive inflexibility are related to impulsive and/or compulsive personality traits and whether they interact to determine more problematic drinking and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
Methods: Participants were 173 adults (mean age = 34.5 years, S.D = 8.5). They completed an online visual search task to measure reward-related attentional capture, in which stimulus-reward contingencies in phase 1 were reversed in phase 2. Participants also completed questionnaires to assess trait impulsivity, compulsivity, psychological distress, and a range of measures for alcohol use and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Results: Greater trait compulsivity was associated with higher reward-related attentional capture, and greater negative urgency was associated with greater cognitive inflexibility. Further, reward-related attentional capture and cognitive inflexibility interacted to determine more compulsive drinking among current drinkers (n = 88) and greater severity of obsessive-compulsive compulsions among participants who reported obsessive-compulsive behaviors in the past month (n=57). Follow-up analyses showed that these interactions were driven by associations between higher reward-related attentional capture and more problematic compulsive behaviours among cognitively inflexible participants only.
Conclusion: Impulsive and compulsive traits are underpinned by different cognitive profiles that interact to determine more problematic behaviors