Effect of impulsivity on craving and behavioral reactivity to smoking cues
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- Doran, N., Spring, B. & McChargue, D. Psychopharmacology (2007) 194: 279. doi:10.1007/s00213-007-0832-x
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Nearly 25% of American adults remain regular smokers. Current smokers may be especially likely to possess characteristics that impair their ability to quit, such as impulsivity. Impulsive individuals may be overly prone to smoke because they are particularly drawn to rewarding stimuli and related cues. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that more impulsive smokers are more responsive to cigarette cues than other smokers.
Materials and methods
In a repeated measures design, 60 euthymic, adult smokers (50% female) were exposed to a smoking cue and a neutral cue in two experimental sessions. Cue reactivity was operationalized as changes in cigarette craving and preference for immediate vs delayed smoking after cue exposure.
Impulsivity predicted a heightened craving response to both cues but particularly the smoking cue (t  = 3.21, p = 0.002). Smokers with high levels of impulsivity exhibited a greater preference for immediate rewards over larger, delayed rewards in terms of both hypothetical (t  = 5.99, p = 0.001) and actual (z = 3.02, p = 0.003) rewards.
These data suggest that increased reactivity to environmental smoking cues contributes to the link between impulsivity and smoking.