Study: Playing Tetris Helps Prevent Addictive Cravings

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

A study from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia claims that playing Tetris can diminish desires for food, smoking, alcohol, and even sex.

Thirty-one students, aged 18-27, participated in the study, with 15 of the subjects playing Tetris for three minutes before reporting on their cravings. Plymouth University’s Prof. Jackie Andrade reported, “Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%.”

“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity,” she explained. “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”

“As a support tool, Tetris could help people manage their cravings in their daily lives and over extended time periods,” she concluded.

Plymouth University’s Professor Jon May stated that playing Tetris was a consistent deterrent to cravings, even with participants playing “the game 40 times on average” during the study.

“This finding is potentially important because an intervention that worked solely because it was novel and unusual would have diminishing benefits over time as participants became familiar with it,” he claimed.

The full results of the study were published in the medical journal Addictive Behaviors.

Follow Noah Dulis on Twitter @Marshal_Dov.


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