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.
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
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.