Reinout Wiers

Bio:Prof. Wiers is full professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Amsterdam. He is internationally known for his work on implicit cognitive processes in addiction. He published over 200 international papers and chapters, mostly on this subject and received the prestigious VIDI (2002) and VICI (2008) research grants from the Dutch National Science Foundation (N.W.O.) for research on implicit cognition and addiction. With Alan Stacy, he edited the Handbook of Implicit Cognition and Addiction (SAGE, 2006). He is senior editor of the no 1 ranked journal in the field (Addiction) and on the editorial board of several other Addiction journals.

Title (preliminary): The riddles of addiction

Abstract (preliminary): I will present some of our work on assessing and changing cognitive biases in addiction, with a focus on outstanding questions. First, we have demonstrated that addictions are associated with several cognitive biases, specifically biases in attention, memory and action tendencies. Second, there is also evidence that the impact of these biases is stronger in individuals with relatively weak cognitive control. Third, there is evidence that changing a bias in users not motivated to change (i.e., the usual subjects: undergraduate students), has a short-lived effect on the addictive behavior, in case the bias is successfully changed and in clinical samples changing a bias as an add-on to regular psychosocial treatment improves treatment outcome with a small effect size (review Wiers et al., 2018; Bayesian meta-analysis: Boffo et al., 2019). Now the challenges for which complexity system dynamics might be of help: current measures are not reliable, and there may be temporal instabilities inherent to the cognitive motivational processes assessed (e.g., craving is typically not constant but tends to come in waves). Further, there are strong individual differences in both the presence of biases and the speed of training, but so far we have not been able to predict these individual differences.