A recent study from our lab found that an intervention aimed at changing alcohol-related cognitions in heavy drinkers resulted in significant changes in explicit cognitions, in the absence of changes in implicit cognitions. This raised the question how implicit alcohol- and drug-related cognitions could successfully be changed. Here, the literature on changing implicit cognitions from four areas of research is reviewed: 1) memory research (resistance to change of implicit vs. Explicit memories); 2) learning psychology (attempts to change learned associations); 3) experimental psychopathology (attempts to change an attentional bias); and 4) social cognition research (attempts to change implicit attitudes). Further, studies directly aimed at changing implicit drug-related cognitions are reviewed. From the integrative review, it is argued that it is important to consider the level of representation (i.e., specific vs. Global) when comparing studies aimed at changing implicit cognitions: there is converging evidence that specific implicit cognitions and memories are resistant to change, whereas global implicit cognitions and memories appear to be more malleable. The results are integrated into an overall picture of what it takes to change implicit cognitions in general and what can be expected with respect to the effects of such a change on behavior, and how this could be used in alcohol-use and drug use-related preventive interventions.
Wiers, R. W., de Jong, P. J., Havermans, R., & Jelicic, M. (2004). How to change implicit drug use-related cognitions in prevention: a transdisciplinary integration of findings from experimental psychopathology, social cognition, memory, and experimental learning psychology. Substance Use & Misuse, 39(10-12), 1625-1684. https://doi.org/10.1081/JA-200033206