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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1991 Apr;38(4):715-21.

Behavioral economic analysis of smoking: money and food as alternatives.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA 15213.


The relative reinforcing value of smoking versus two nonpharmacological reinforcers, money and food, was evaluated in young female smokers in two experiments. In Experiment 1 eight smokers worked for access to smoking or money on concurrent progressive variable ratio schedules of reinforcement (VR4 to VR50) across two days of Smoking Deprivation or No Deprivation. During No Deprivation money was reliably chosen over smoking. During Deprivation subjects initially (VR4) chose smoking over money, but at subsequent comparisons allocated equal time to work for smoking or money. In Experiment 2 eight smokers were provided access to smoking or food across four conditions: No Deprivation, Smoking Deprivation, Food Deprivation and Smoking + Food Deprivation, using the same progressive variable ratio schedules as in Experiment 1. Results showed an increase in the reinforcing value of food after Food Deprivation and smoking after Smoking Deprivation. On the dual deprivation day, subjects initially (VR4) chose to work for food, showed equal preferences over the next three schedule comparisons (VR8-VR20), and from VR25-VR50 shifted their choice to smoking. An increase in percent of calories as fat was observed during all deprivation conditions. The results demonstrate the use of the concurrent schedule paradigm for assessing choice among pharmacological and nonpharmacological reinforcers, and shows the relative reinforcing value of smoking depends on recent deprivation, response demands to obtain the reinforcer and availability of alternative reinforcers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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