Paper in Psychological Science
  • Lovibond, P. F. & Colagiuri, B. (2013). Facilitation of voluntary goal-directed behaviour by reward cues. Psychological Science, doi: 10.1177/0956797613484043.

    Reward-associated cues are known to influence motivation to approach both natural and man-made rewards, such as food and drugs. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood. To model these processes in the laboratory with humans, we developed an appetitive Pavlovian-instrumental transfer procedure with a chocolate reward. We used a single unconstrained response that led to an actual rather than symbolic reward to assess the strength of reward motivation. Presentation of a chocolate-paired cue, but not an unpaired cue, markedly enhanced instrumental responding over a 30-s period. The same pattern was observed with 10-s and 30-s cues, showing that close cue-reward contiguity is not necessary for facilitation of reward-directed action. The results confirm that reward-related cues can instigate voluntary action to obtain that reward. The effectiveness of long-duration cues suggests that in clinical settings, attention should be directed to both proximal and distal cues for reward.