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Addiction. 2002 Jan;97(1):87-93.

The urge to smoke depends on the expectation of smoking.

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Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.



An earlier study (Dols et al. 2000) suggested that cue-induced urge to smoke depends on the expectation of smoking. The present study tried to replicate the findings under stringently controlled conditions.


A 2 (context) x 2 (cues) x 6 (trial) within-subject design. Each smoker entered two different contexts; one context predicted the future occurrence of smoking (i.e. one puff of a cigarette) and one context predicted the non-occurrence of smoking. In each context smokers were exposed to smoking cues (i.e. cigarettes and lighter) or not.


Laboratory at Maastricht University.


Thirty-two daily smokers, smoking at least five cigarettes a day for at least 2 years.


Participants reported their urge to smoke in each context in the presence and absence of smoking cues using a computerized visual analogue scale (VAS).


The results revealed that the urge to smoke was higher in a context in which smoking was expected relative to a context in which it was not expected. As in the previous study the urge-inducing effect of smoking cues was larger in the smoking context than in the non-smoking context. Moreover, smoking cues did not have a significant effect in the non-smoking context.


It was shown that smoking cues elicit craving due mainly to a generated expectation of the occurrence of smoking and less due to salience or long history of associative learning. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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