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Nicotine Tob Res. 2012 May;14(5):547-58. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntr252. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Temporal and probability discounting by cigarette smokers following acute smoking abstinence.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.



Given the lack of consensus regarding changes in temporal and probability discounting as a function of smoking abstinence in cigarette smokers, the present study comprehensively examined possible changes in these processes following a period of acute smoking abstinence consistent with elevated withdrawal symptoms and craving.


Computerized temporal and probability discounting assessments were collected from cigarette smokers following normal smoking and 24-hr smoking abstinence, with the order of normal smoking and abstinence sessions counterbalanced across participants. Other conditions included commodity (money and cigarettes), sign (gains and losses), and magnitude ($50 and $1,000).


Twenty four-hour smoking abstinence resulted in a reduction in expired carbon monoxide to near-zero levels and increases in withdrawal and craving. Examination of discounting parameters as a function of smoking abstinence revealed a general pattern of increase in the temporal discounting of monetary gains and losses following abstinence but not in the temporal discounting of cigarettes nor probability discounting of money or cigarettes. Pearson correlations also revealed an expected pattern of significant relationships.


The present study is a comprehensive examination of temporal and probability discounting following smoking abstinence and reveals a generalized change in intertemporal decision making for monetary rewards.

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