The effect of desire thinking on craving: an experimental investigation

Psychol Addict Behav. 2013 Mar;27(1):301-6. doi: 10.1037/a0027981. Epub 2012 Apr 9.


Desire thinking is a voluntary cognitive process involving verbal and imaginal elaboration of a desired target. Recent research has revealed that desire thinking and craving are distinct constructs and that desire thinking may play a significant role in the escalation of craving. The goal of this study was to explore the effect of desire thinking induction on craving in a nonclinical sample. Forty-five volunteers with no current diagnosis of psychological disorders chose a desired activity and were randomly allocated to three thinking manipulation tasks: distraction, verbal reasoning, and desire thinking. Craving was measured before and after manipulation and during a 3-day period of abstinence from the desired activity. Findings showed that desire thinking had a significant effect on craving after manipulation. This effect appeared to be independent of baseline levels of craving and desire thinking as well as perceived stress changes during the manipulation. Both distraction and verbal reasoning inductions did not lead to a significant change in craving. Desire thinking impacts craving and is a risk factor for craving-related problems.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Problem Solving
  • Thinking*