Objective: Heavy drinking among young adults poses severe health risks, including development of later addiction problems. Cognitive retraining of automatic appetitive processes related to alcohol (so-called cognitive bias modification [CBM]) may help to prevent escalation of use. Although effective as a treatment in clinical patients, the use of CBM in youth proves more difficult, as motivation in this group is typically low, and the paradigms used are often viewed as boring and tedious. This article presents two separate studies that focused on three approaches that may enhance user experience and motivation to train: a serious game, a serious game in a social networking context, and a mobile application. Materials and Methods: In the Game Study, 77 participants performed a regular CBM training, aimed at response matching, a gamified version, or a placebo version of that training. The gamified version was presented as a stand-alone game or in the context of a social network. In the Mobile Study, 64 participants completed a different CBM training, aimed at approach bias, either on a computer or on their mobile device. Results: Although no training effects were found in the Game Study, adding (social) game elements did increase aspects of the user experience and motivation to train. The mobile training appeared to increase motivation to train in terms how often participants trained, but this effect disappeared after controlling for baseline motivation to train. Conclusions: Adding (social) game elements can increase motivation to train, and mobile training did not underperform compared with the regular training in this sample, which warrants more research into motivational elements for CBM training in younger audiences.

doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2015.0053, hdl.handle.net/1765/122100
Games for Health Journal
Department of Psychology

Boendermaker, W.J., Boffo, M., & Wiers, R. (2015). Exploring Elements of Fun to Motivate Youth to do Cognitive Bias Modification. Games for Health Journal, 4(6). doi:10.1089/g4h.2015.0053