Effects of alternative reinforcer and craving on the choice to smoke cigarettes in the laboratory

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jan;22(1):41-7. doi: 10.1002/hup.816.


We examined to what extent craving for cigarettes and the magnitude of an alternative monetary reinforcer were predictors of the choice to smoke in the human laboratory. Twelve non-treatment-seeking nicotine-dependent volunteers participated in a series of outpatient sessions during which they had repeated opportunities to select between three puffs of a cigarette and a variety of monetary alternatives ($0.50-3), responding under a progressive-ratio schedule. Level of cigarette craving was measured at baseline and between each choice opportunity. The probability of choosing a cigarette decreased significantly with the increase in the magnitude of the alternative reinforcer. Baseline level of craving did not significantly alter the probability of choosing a cigarette, but a craving component related to the anticipation of positive effects from smoking, assessed repeatedly between choice opportunities, was predictive of the choice to smoke. These results demonstrate that the cigarette puff self-administration procedure is sensitive to environmental manipulations and cigarette puff choice can be modified by the availability of an alternative reinforcer. This paradigm models the motivational component associated with choice to smoke and could be used to evaluate the effects of pharmacological and behavioral interventions to decrease cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*
  • Token Economy


  • Nicotine