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Katrijn Houben




  • - Belonende waarde van voedsel en eten
  • - Cognitieve processen en denkfouten
  • - Executieve functies & cognitieve controle
  • - Gewichtsverlies en lijnen
  • - Interventies / behandeling
  • - Obesitas


My research focuses on automatic processes that play a role in excessive eating and obesity as well as the ability to exert executive control over such (automatic) behavior. Specifically, my research roughly concentrates on the following topics:

1. Implicit cognition and change
According to contemporary dual-process models, situations in which we are tempted by delicious, high calorie food can often be understood as a tug-of-war between motivational impulses to consume this food, and conflicting goals related to weight control. Specifically, palatable food may be automatically (implicitly) associated with positive affect, thereby triggering the motivational impulse to indulge, even though one does not wish this to happen. This line of research focuses on examining the automatic cognitions underlying the desire to eat and testing new ways of re-wiring these automatic impulses.

2. Self-control and training of executive functions
In order to achieve weight loss, one needs to reduce daily caloric intake, increase psychical activity, or do both. For many, however, this equation is easily understood but difficult to balance. Self-control may be the critical factor in this knowledge-behavior gap. Self-control refers to the ability to override or change one’s inner responses, as well as to interrupt undesired behavioral tendencies (such as impulses) and refrain from acting on them. In line with this idea, less effective self-control is associated with increased food intake, overeating, increased bodyweight, and obesity. Thus, the available evidence supports a crucial role for self-control, in particular when confronted with tasty foods, in the prevention and treatment of excessive bodyweight and obesity. My research therefore focuses on testing the possibility of training self- control to reduce food intake and overweight.


I am the coordinator of the course ‘Addiction’ in the bachelor Mental Health, and the course ‘Bad Habits’ in the master Health and Social Psychology. I also coordinate and supervise practicals in the master tracks of the faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience and I am involved in the psychology bachelor course ‘Academic writing’. Finally, I supervise bachelor theses and master theses of students interested in self-control, executive functions, eating behavior and overweight/obesity.

International publications

Schyns, G., van den Akker, K., Roefs, A., Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (in press). Exposure therapy vs lifestyle intervention to reduce food cue reactivity and binge eating in obesity: A pilot study. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

Forman, E. M., Manasse, S. M., Dallal, D. H., Crochiere, R. J., Loyka, C. M., Butryn, M. L., Juarascio, A. S., Houben, K.(2019). Computerized neurocognitive training for improving dietary health and facilitating weight loss. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 42, 1029–1040.

Mergelsberg, E. L. P., MacLeod, C., Mullan, B., Rudaizky, D., Allom, V., Houben, K., & Lipp, O. V. (2019). Food healthiness versus tastiness: Contrasting their impact on more and less successful healthy shoppers within a virtual food shopping task. Appetite, 133, 405-413.

Nederkoorn, C., Houben, K., Havermans, R. C. (2019). Taste the texture. The relation between subjective tactile sensitivity, mouthfeel and picky eating in young adults. Appetite, 136, 58-61.

Zerhouni, O., Houben, K., el Methni, J., Rutte, N., Werkman, E., & Wiers, R. W. (2019). I didn’t feel like drinking, but I guess why: evaluative conditioning changes on explicit attitudes toward alcohol and healthy foods depends on contingency awareness. Learning and Motivation, 66, 1-12.

Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2019). When food becomes an obsession: Overweight is related to food-related obsessive-compulsive behavior. Journal of Health Psychology, 24, 1145 –1152.

Dassen, F. C. M., Houben, K., Allom, V., & Jansen, A. (2018). Self-regulation and obesity: The role of executive function and delay discounting in the prediction of weight loss. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 41, 806-818.

Jones, A., McGrath, E., Robinson, E., Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., Field, M. (2018). A randomised controlled trial of Inhibitory Control Training for the reduction of alcohol consumption in problem drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86, 991-1004.

Bongers, P., Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2018). Double up! Examining the effects of adding inhibition training to food cue exposure in chocolate-loving female students. Appetite, 121, 154-162.

Dassen, F. C. M., Houben, K., Van Breukelen, G. J. P., & Jansen, A. (2018). Gamified working memory training in overweight individuals reduces food intake but not body weight. Appetite, 124, 89-98.

Houben, K., & Giesen, J. C. A. H. (2018). Will work less for food: Go/No-go training decreases the reinforcing value of high-calorie food. Appetite, 130, 79-83.

Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., & Higgs, S. (2018). An introduction to the special issue on ‘Executive function training & eating behaviour’. Appetite, 124, 1-3.

Jones, A., Tiplady, B., Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., Field, M. (2018). Do daily fluctuations in inhibitory control predict alcohol consumption? An ecological momentary assessment study. Psychopharmacology, 235, 1487-1496.

Verbeken, S., Braet, C., Naets, T., Houben, K., & Boendermaker, W. (2018). Computer training of attention and inhibition for youngsters with obesity: a pilot study. Appetite, 123, 439-447.

Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., Houben, K., van den Akker, O., Rosenthal, M., & Higgs, S. (2018). Does working memory training improve dietary self-care in type 2 diabetes mellitus? Results of a double blind randomised controlled trial. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 143, 204-214.

Smith, J. L., Dash, N., Johnstone, S. J., Houben, K., & Field, M. (2017). Current forms of inhibitory training produce no greater reduction in drinking than simple assessment: A preliminary study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 173, 47-58.

Bartsch, A.-L., Kothe, E., Allom, V., Mullan, B., & Houben, K. (2016). The Effect of non-specific response inhibition training on alcohol consumption: An intervention. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 7, 1.

Cuenen, A., Jongen, E. M. M., Brijs, T., Brijs, K., Houben, K., & Wets, G. (2016). Effect of a working memory training on aspects of cognitive ability and driving ability of older drivers: Merits of an adaptive training over a non-adaptive training. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 42, 15-27.

Houben, K., Dassen, F. C. M., & Jansen, A. (2016). Taking control: Working memory training in overweight individuals increases self-regulation of food intake. Appetite, 105, 567-574.

Dassen, F. C. M., Nederkoorn, C., Jansen, A., & Houben, K. (2016). Focus on the future: Episodic future thinking reduces discount rate and snacking. Appetite, 96, 327-332. [Download PDF]

Dassen, F. C. M., Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2015). Time orientation and eating behavior: Unhealthy eaters consider immediate consequences, while healthy eaters focus on future health. Appetite, 91, 13-19.

Jansen, A., Houben, K., & Roefs, A. (2015). A cognitive profile of obesity and its translation into new treatment interventions. Frontiers in Eating Behaviors, 27, 1807.

Kreusch, F, Goffaux, V., Siep, N, Houben, K., Quertemont, E., & Wiers, R. W. (2015). Brain activation associated with automatic processing of alcohol-related cues in young heavy drinkers and its modulation by alcohol administration. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39, 1957-1966.

Nederkoorn, C., Dassen, F. C. M., Franken, L., Resch, C., & Houben, K. (2015). Impulsivity and overeating in children in absence and presence of hunger. Appetite, 93, 57-61.

Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., Houben, K., van den Akker, O., Neira Miller, I., Narendren P., Rosenthal, M., & Higgs, S. (2015). Does neurocognitive training have the potential to improve dietary self-care in Type 2 Diabetes? Study protocol of a double blind randomised controlled trial. BMC Nutrition, 1, 11.

Jones, A., McGrath, E., Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., Robinson, E., & Field, M. (2014). A comparison of three types of web-based inhibition training for the reduction of alcohol consumption in problem drinkers: study protocol. BMC Public Health, 14, 796.

Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2015). Chocolate equals stop: Chocolate-specific inhibition training reduces chocolate intake and go associations with chocolate. Appetite, 87, 318-323. [Download PDF]

Wiers, R. W., Houben, K., Fadardi, J. S., van Beek, P., Rhemtulla, M. T., Cox, W. M. (2015). Alcohol Cognitive Bias Modification Training for Problem Drinkers over the Web. Addictive Behaviors, 40, 21-26.

Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2014). Lacking skills to improve self-control: Reward-induced inhibitory control loss in unsuccessful weight regulators. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology,5, 29-37. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2014). Eating on impulse? The relation between overweight and food-specific inhibitory control. Obesity, 22, E6–E8. [Download PDF]

Bongers, P., Jansen, A., Houben, K., & Roefs, A. (2013). Happy eating: The Single Target Implicit Association Test predicts overeating after positive emotions. Eating Behaviors, 14, 348–355.

Jones, A., Christiansen, P., Nederkoorn, C., Houben, K., & Field, M. (2013). Fluctuating disinhibition: Implications for treatment of substance use disorders. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4, 140.

ten Hoor, G. A., Ruiter, R. A. C., van Bergen, J. E. A. M., Hoebe, C. J. P. A., Houben, K., & Kok, G. (2013). Non-Participation in Chlamydia Screening in the Netherlands: Determinants associated with young people’s intention to participate in chlamydia screening. BMC Public Health, 13, 1091.

Houben, K., & Havermans, R. C. (2012). A delicious fly in your soup? The relationship between disgust, obesity, and restraint. Appetite, 58, 827-830. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., Havermans, R. C., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2012). Beer à No-Go: Learning to stop responding to alcohol cues reduces alcohol intake via reduced affective associations rather than increased response inhibition. Addiction, 107, 1280-1287. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2012). Too tempting to resist? Past success at weight control rather than dietary restraint determines exposure-induced disinhibited eating. Appetite, 59, 550-555. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., Roefs, A., & Jansen, A. (2012). Guilty pleasures II: Restrained eaters’ implicit preferences for high, moderate and low calorie food. Eating Behaviors, 13, 275-277. [Download PDF]

Lebens, H., Roefs, A., Martijn, C., Houben, K., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2011). Making implicit measures of associations with snack foods more negative through evaluative conditioning. Eating Behaviors, 12, 249-253.

Havermans, R. C., Giesen, J. C. A. H., Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2011). Weight, gender, and snack appeal. Eating Behaviors, 12, 126-130.

Houben, K. (2011). Overcoming the urge to splurge: The role of inhibitory control in eating behavior. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42, 384-388. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. , & Jansen, A. (2011). Training inhibitory control: A recipe for resisting sweet temptations. Appetite, 56, 345-349. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. , Nederkoorn. C., Wiers, R. W., & Jansen, A. (2011). Resisting temptation: Decreasing alcohol-related affect and drinking behavior by training response inhibition. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 116, 132-136. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. Wiers, R. W., & Jansen, A. (2011). Getting a grip on drinking behavior: Training working memory to reduce alcohol abuse. Psychological Science, 22, 968-975. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. , Roefs, A., & Jansen, A. (2010). Guilty pleasures: Implicit preferences for high calorie food in restrained eating. Appetite, 55, 18-24. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. , Schoenmakers, T. M., & Wiers, R. W. (2010). I didn’t feel like drinking but I don’t know why: The effects of evaluative conditioning on alcohol-related attitudes, craving and behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 1161-1163. [Download PDF]

Dekker, N., Smeerdijk, A. M., Wiers, R. W., Duits, J., van Gelder, G. , Houben, K. , Schippers, G. , Linszen, D. H., & de Haan, L. (2010). Explicit and implicit cannabis associations in patients with recent-onset schizophrenia and healthy controls. Psychological Medicine, 40, 1325–1336.

Nederkoorn, C., Houben, K. , Hofmann, W., Roefs, A., & Jansen, A. (2010). Control yourself or just eat what you like? Weight gain over a year is predicted by an interactive effect of response inhibition and implicit preference for snack foods. Health Psychology, 29, 389-393.

Houben, K., Havermans, R. C., & Wiers, R. W. (2010). Learning to dislike alcohol: Conditioning negative implicit attitudes towards alcohol and its effect on drinking behavior. Psychopharmacology, 211, 79-86. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., Nosek, B. A., & Wiers, R. W. (2010). Seeing the forest through the trees: A comparison of different IAT variants measuring implicit alcohol associations. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 106, 204-211. [Download PDF]

Wiers, R. W., Rinck, M., Kordts, R., Houben, K., & Strack, F. (2010). Re-training Automatic Action-Tendencies to Approach Alcohol in Hazardous Drinkers. Addiction, 105, 279-287.[Download PDF]

Houben, K., Rothermund, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2009). Eliminating recoding in the Alcohol-IAT: An application of the IAT-RF. Addictive Behaviors, 34, 487-489. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2009). Beer makes the heart grow fonder: Single-target implicit preferences for beer determine consumption. Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 62, 10-21.[Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2009). Response Inhibition Moderates the Influence of Implicit Associations on Drinking Behavior. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33, 626-633.[Download PDF]

Wiers, R. W., Beckers, L., Houben, K., & Hofmann, W. (2009). A short fuse after alcohol: Implicit power associations predict aggressiveness after alcohol consumption in young heavy drinkers with limited executive control. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 93, 300-305.[Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2008). Implicitly positive about alcohol? Implicit positive associations predict drinking behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 33, 979-986. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2008). Measuring implicit alcohol associations via the Internet: Validation of Web-based Implicit Association Tests. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 1134–1143. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2007). Are drinkers implicitly positive about drinking alcohol? Personalizing the alcohol-IAT to reduce negative extrapersonal contamination. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 42, 301-307. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2007). Personalizing the Alcohol-IAT with Individualized Stimuli: Relationship with Drinking Behavior and Drinking-Related Problems. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2852-2864. [Download PDF]

Wiers, R. W., Houben, K., & de Kraker, J. (2007). Implicit cocaine associations in active cocaine users and controls. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 1284-1289.

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2006). Assessing Implicit Alcohol Associations with the Implicit Association Test: Fact or Artifact? Addictive Behaviors, 31, 1346-1362. [Download PDF]

Houben, K., & Wiers, R. W. (2006). A Test of the Salience Asymmetry Interpretation of the Alcohol-IAT. Experimental Psychology, 53, 292-300. [Download PDF]

Candel, I., Merckelbach, H., Houben, K., & Vandyck, I. (2004). How children remember neutral and emotional pictures: Boundary extension in children’s scene memories. American Journal of Psychology, 117, 249-257.

International Book Contributions

Roefs, A, Houben, K., & Werthmann, J. (2015). Desire for food and the power of mind. In W. Hofmann & L. Nordgren (Eds.), The psychology of desire. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Wiers, R. W., Houben, K., Hofmann, W., & Stacy, A. W. (in press). Indirect measures in the domain of health psychology. In F. J. R. van de Vijver & T. Ortner (Eds.), Behavior Based Assessment: Going beyond Self Report in the Personality, Affective, Motivation, and Social Domains.

Wiers, R. W., Houben, K., Roefs, A., de Jong, P., Hofmann, W., & Stacy, A. W. (2010). Implicit cognition in health psychology: Why common sense goes out of the window. In B. Gawronski & B. K. Payne (Eds.), Handbook of implicit social cognition. New York: Guilford.

Wiers, R. W., Schoenmakers, T., Houben, K., Thush, C., Fadardi, J. S., & Cox, W. M. (2008). Can problematic alcohol use be trained away? New behavioural treatments aimed at changing and moderating implicit cognitive processes in alcohol abuse. In C. R. Martin (Ed.), Identification and treatment of alcohol dependency (pp. 185-205). Keswick, UK: M&K Publishing.

Houben, K., Wiers, R. W., & Roefs, A. (2006). Reaction Time Measures of Substance-Related Associations. In R. W. Wiers & A. W. Stacy (Eds.), Handbook of Implicit Cognition and Addiction (pp. 91-104). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishers.

Wiers, R. W., Houben, K., Smulders, F. T. Y., Conrod, P. J., & Jones, B. T. (2006). To drink or not to drink: The role of automatic and controlled processes in the etiology of alcohol-related problems. In R. W. Wiers & A. W. Stacy (Eds.), Handbook of Implicit Cognition and Addiction (pp. 339-361). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishers.

National publications

Houben, K. (2010). Stoppen met drinken kan je leren: Een impulsieve en een reflectieve route naar gedragsverandering. Psychologie & Gezondheid, 36, 153-162.

Houben, K. (2009). Wetenschappelijk onderzoek via het Internet: Voordelen en nieuwe uitdagingen. De Psycholoog, 44, 641-647.

Houben, K., Schoenmakers, T., Thush, C., & Wiers, R. W. (2008). Impliciete cognitie en verslaving: Theoretische inzichten en praktische toepassingen. Gedragstherapie, 41, 169-182. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. (2007). Alcoholgebruik: bewust of onbewust? Voeding Nu, 9, 17-19. [Download PDF]

Houben, K. (2006). Bookreview of J. Huijding (2006). Automatic affective associations and psychopathology. Maandblad Geestelijke Volksgezondheid, 61, 685-688.