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Behav Res Ther. 2007 Sep;45(9):2066-77. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

Implicit associations between smoking and social consequences among smokers in cessation treatment.

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Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Box G-BH, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Explicit expectations of the negative and positive social consequences of smoking are likely to have substantial influence on decisions regarding smoking. However, among smokers trying to quit, success in smoking cessation may be related not only to the content of expectancies about smoking's social effects but also to the ease with which these cognitive contents come to mind when confronted with smoking stimuli. To examine this possibility, we used the implicit association test (IAT) [Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480] to assess implicit cognitive associations between smoking and negative vs. positive social consequences among 67 heavy social drinkers seeking smoking cessation treatment in a randomized clinical trial. Results showed that the relative strength of implicit, negative, social associations with smoking at baseline predicted higher odds of smoking abstinence during treatment over and above the effects of relevant explicit measures. The only variable that significantly correlated with IAT scores was the density of smokers in participants' social environment; those with more smoking in their social environment showed weaker negative social associations with smoking. Results suggest implicit cognition regarding the social consequences of smoking may be a relevant predictor of smoking cessation outcome.

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