Automatic goals and smoking cessation

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Bergen, Anne E.

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University of Guelph


Participants (smokers, ex-smokers, and non-smokers) were randomly assigned to conditions where a smoking, quitting, or neutral goal was activated using a supraliminal priming procedure. Automatic goals related to smoking and quitting were assessed using a lexical decision task. Smokers were significantly slower than non-smokers to respond to the word 'quit,' regardless of priming condition. There was no difference in lexical decision latency to the word 'smoking' regardless of smoking status and priming condition. The results indicate that accessibility of the concept of quitting is reduced among smokers, which suggests that smokers have an inhibited goal of smoking cessation. Controlling for overall response speed, response speeds for the words smoking and quit were correlated for non-smokers, but not for smokers or ex-smokers. This finding indicates that not all smokers with inhibited quit goals have strong automatic goals to continue smoking.



Smoking cessation, Automatic goals, Lexical decision task, Non-smokers, Ex-smokers