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Let’s Open the Decision-Making Umbrella: A Framework for Conceptualizing and Assessing Features of Impaired Decision Making in Addiction

  • Rochat, Lucien
  • Maurage, Pierre
  • Heeren, Alexandre
  • Billieux, Joël
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
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Decision-making impairments play a pivotal role in the emergence and maintenance of addictive disorders. However, a sound conceptualization of decision making as an umbrella construct, encompassing its cognitive, affective, motivational, and physiological subcomponents, is still lacking. This prevents an efficient evaluation of the heterogeneity of decision-making impairments and the development of tailored treatment. This paper thus unfolds the various processes involved in decision making by adopting a critical approach of prominent dual- or triadic-process models, which postulate that decision making is influenced by the interplay of impulsive-automatic, reflective-controlled, and interoceptive processes. Our approach also focuses on social cognition processes, which play a crucial role in decision making and addictive disorders but were largely ignored in previous dual- or triadic-process models. We propose here a theoretical framework in which a range of coordinated processes are first identified on the basis of their theoretical and clinical relevance. Each selected process is then defined before reviewing available results underlining its role in addictive disorders (i.e., substance use, gambling, and gaming disorders). Laboratory tasks for measuring each process are also proposed, initiating a preliminary process-based decision-making assessment battery. This original approach may offer an especially informative view of the constitutive features of decision making impairments in addiction. As prior research has implicated these features as risk factors for the development and maintenance of addictive disorders, our processual approach sets the scene for novel and transdiagnostic experimental and applied research avenues

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