Context-dependency of cue-elicited urge to smoke

R. Thewissen*, M.A. van den Hout, R.C. Havermans, A.T.M. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aims Earlier studies have suggested that the cue-induced urge to smoke depends on the expectation of the availability of smoking. The present study investigated whether a 'room context' change could undo the learned discrimination between two stimuli, respectively, predicting smoking availability or smoking unavailability. Design A 2 (smoking cue) x 2 (availability context cue) x 6 (trial) x 2 (room context change) within-subjects design was used. Participants were repeatedly presented with a context cue predicting smoking availability (blue serving tray) and a context cue predicting unavailability (yellow serving tray) in one room and tested for an effect of context change in a different room. Setting Two distinct rooms located in different department buildings of Maastricht University. Participants Seventeen daily smokers who had smoked at least five cigarettes a day for at least 2 years. Measurements Self-reported urge to smoke using a visual analogue scale (VAS). Findings and conclusions Results replicated the finding that a context cue that predicted smoking elicited greater urges to smoke than a context cue that predicted no smoking, irrespective of the presence of smoking cues. In addition, this study showed that this differential effect on the urge to smoke was generalized to a context other than the context in which learning took place. These findings are discussed in relation to the significance of a context change regarding the predictive value of smoking availability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

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