Individual variation in resisting temptation: Implications for addiction

Benjamin T. Saunders, Terry E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


When exposed to the sights, sounds, smells and/or places that have been associated with rewards, such as food or drugs, some individuals have difficulty resisting the temptation to seek out and consume them. Others have less difficulty restraining themselves. Thus, Pavlovian reward cues may motivate maladaptive patterns of behavior to a greater extent in some individuals than in others. We are just beginning to understand the factors underlying individual differences in the extent to which reward cues acquire powerful motivational properties, and therefore, the ability to act as incentive stimuli. Here we review converging evidence from studies in both human and non-human animals suggesting that a subset of individuals are more "cue reactive", in that certain reward cues are more likely to attract these individuals to them and motivate actions to get them. We suggest that those individuals for whom Pavlovian reward cues become especially powerful incentives may be more vulnerable to impulse control disorders, such as binge eating and addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1955-1975
Number of pages21
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Accumbens
  • Binge eating
  • Dopamine
  • Goal-tracking
  • Human
  • Individual differences
  • Learning
  • Motivation
  • Obesity
  • Pavlovian
  • Rat
  • Relapse
  • Sign-tracking

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