Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Trouble Quitting?: A New Pitt-Carnegie Mellon Smoking Study May Reveal Why

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.

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.

Published in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the study, “Exploring the Cold-to-Hot Empathy Gap in Smokers,” 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.

Founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is an internationally renowned center for learning and research in the arts, sciences, humanities, professions, and health sciences, as well as a partner in regional development. The University offers approximately 400 distinct degree programs and confers 7,000 degrees annually. With 34,000 students and more than 12,000 faculty, research associates, and staff on five campuses, the University, a public institution of higher education, contributes $1.5 billion to the local economy and provides a wide range of programs and services for residents of Western Pennsylvania. Pitt is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, an organization of 62 preeminent doctorate-granting research institutions in the United States and Canada.

Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre Pittsburgh campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Sharon Blake | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Smokers Smoking cigarette cold turkey nicotine buzz

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>