Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trouble Quitting? New Smoking Study May Reveal Why

Date:
August 27, 2008
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
A new study sheds light on why smokers' intentions to quit "cold turkey" often fizzle out within days or even hours.

A new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University sheds light on why smokers' intentions to quit “cold turkey” often fizzle out within days or even hours.

Related Articles


If a smoker isn't yearning for a cigarette when he makes the decision to kick the habit-and most aren't-he isn't able to foresee how he will feel when he's in need of a nicotine buzz. The new study bolsters the theory that smokers not in a state of craving a cigarette will underestimate and underpredict the intensity of their future urge to smoke.

“We have observed previously that the idea of smoking a cigarette becomes increasingly attractive to smokers while they are craving,” said the study's lead investigator and University of Pittsburgh professor of psychology Michael Sayette. “This study suggests that when smokers are not craving, they fail to appreciate just how powerful their cravings will be. This lack of insight while not craving may lead them to make decisions-such as choosing to attend a party where there will be lots of smoking-that they may come to regret.”

The study looked at the cold-to-hot empathy gap-that is, the tendency for people in a “cold” state (not influenced by such visceral factors as hunger, fatigue) to mispredict their own behavior when in a “hot” state (hungry, fatigued), in part because they can't remember the intensity of their past cravings.

The researchers gathered 98 male and female smokers for two experimental sessions and placed them in one of three groups: “hot,” “cold,” and a comparison group. Those in a “hot” state were asked to abstain from smoking for 12 hours prior to Session 1 and then were induced to crave a cigarette by holding, but not smoking, a lit one.

Those in a “cold” state smoked up until Session 1 began and did not hold a lit cigarette. The comparison group did not attend Session 1.

During Session 1, “hot” and “cold” participants were asked to indicate the minimum amount of money they would need to delay smoking for five minutes in Session 2, when all participants would be in a “hot” state. Smokers in all three groups were required to abstain from smoking for 12 hours prior to Session 2 and would experience the lit cigarette cue described above.

During Session 2, when the subjects in all three groups were craving, they were given the chance to revise the amount of money they would need to delay smoking for five minutes. As expected, the “cold” smokers from Session 1 now significantly increased the amount of money they would need to delay smoking for just five minutes, while those originally in a “hot” state during Session 1 did not request an increase.

The study participants from the “cold” group were much less likely to accurately predict the amount of money they would need to put off lighting up. In fact, in Session 2, nearly half of the “cold” smokers requested an amount of money higher than what they had initially predicted, while only a quarter of the “hot” group did the same.

“These findings suggest that smokers are likely to underpredict their own future desire to smoke when they're not craving a cigarette,” said study coauthor George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

“The research not only has implications for helping smokers quit, but it also enlightens us on how nonsmokers may pick up the habit. If smokers can't appreciate the intensity of their need to smoke when they aren't currently craving, what's the likelihood that people who have never smoked can do so,” said Loewenstein.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Exploring the Cold-to-Hot Empathy Gap in Smokers. Psychological Science, September 2008

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Trouble Quitting? New Smoking Study May Reveal Why." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826144852.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2008, August 27). Trouble Quitting? New Smoking Study May Reveal Why. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826144852.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Trouble Quitting? New Smoking Study May Reveal Why." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826144852.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins