Imagery and strength of craving for eating, drinking, and playing sport
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The elaborated intrusion (EI) theory of desire (Kavanagh, Andrade, & May, 2005) attributes the motivational force of cravings to cognitive elaboration, including imagery, of apparently spontaneous thoughts that intrude into awareness. We report a questionnaire study in which respondents rated a craving for food or drink. Questionnaire items derived from EI theory formed a single factor alongside factors for anticipated reward/relief, resistance, and opportunity. In a multiple regression predicting strength of craving, the first three factors accounted for 36% of the variance. Opportunity did not enter the model. In a second study, the difference between individuals' strong and weak cravings to take part in a sporting activity was shown to be related to visual, auditory, and general imagery, and to anticipated reward or relief from engaging in the activity. Implications for treatment of craving-related disorders are discussed in the light of these results and of other research indicating that interference with imagery can reduce the strength of craving.
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