Smokers' expectancies for smoking versus nicotine

Psychol Addict Behav. 2008 Mar;22(1):135-40. doi: 10.1037/0893-164X.22.1.135.


This study compared smokers' expectancies for the full act of smoking with those for nicotine per se by means of a word association task. Smokers (N = 201) were randomized to receive instructions to complete either "Smoking makes one ____." or "Nicotine makes one ____." with as many words as possible within 30 s. Results indicated that smokers held similar expectancies for smoking and nicotine; however, negative consequences (e.g., health risks) were more associated with smoking than with nicotine, and addiction expectancies were more associated with nicotine than with smoking. These findings suggest that smokers have a more realistic conceptualization of nicotine's role in smoking than had been indicated from earlier surveys. These findings have important implications for both nicotine-based and behavioral interventions, as well as for experimental designs that rely upon the perceived manipulation of nicotine content.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine*
  • Smoking / psychology*


  • Nicotine