, Volume 226, Issue 2, pp 371-380
Date: 15 Nov 2012

Isolating behavioural economic indices of demand in relation to nicotine dependence

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Characterisation of drug dependence using principles from behavioural economics has provided a more detailed understanding of the disorder. Although questionnaires assessing economic demand for cigarettes have extended these principles to nicotine addiction, aspects of the reliability and selectivity of these questionnaires remain uncertain.


Across two experiments, we attempted to reproduce significant associations of the cigarette purchase task with nicotine dependence in a young adult population of smokers and contrasted this measure with a novel chocolate purchase task. We also examined the association between these measures and performance on a preference task, measuring preference for cigarettes and chocolate.


Questionnaire measures were used within a university setting.


In experiment 1, we observed associations between nicotine dependence and measures of behavioural economic demand for cigarettes, particularly O max. In experiment 2, we replicated these findings again and extended them to show that similar correlations between nicotine dependence and demand for chocolate were not observed. Moreover, the indices of demand and choices on a concurrent choice cigarette task were moderately associated with each other and independently associated with nicotine dependence.


The two experiments clearly supported previous findings regarding the association between nicotine dependence and economic demand for cigarettes. We extend these observations by showing that the generalisation of economic demand across different commodities is relatively weak, but that generalisation across different procedures is strong. Our results therefore support behavioural economic models of nicotine addiction which emphasise a robust proximal role for the incentive value of cigarettes.