Cognitive Concepts of Craving
By Stephen T. Tiffany, Ph.D.
Traditional models of craving have been based primarily on the concept of classical conditioning.
In recent years, however, researchers increasingly have introduced cognitive concepts, such as memory, expectancies, interpretation, and automatic behavior, into their conceptualizations of craving.
These efforts have culminated in the development of four cognitive models of craving:
- cognitive labeling,
- outcome expectancy,
- dual-affect, and
- cognitive processing.
The cognitive processing model posits that although many alcohol use behaviors have become automatized processes in the course of an alcoholic’s drinking career, craving is a non-automatic process that requires mental effort and is limited by a person’s cognitive capacity. This model also implies that alcohol use and alcohol-seeking behavior can occur in the absence of craving.
In addition to introducing various new concepts and models into craving research, the cognitive sciences also offer well established methodologies for testing these models and analyzing craving processes.
Alcohol Research & Health Vol. 23, No. 3, 1999