Visual Attention to Antismoking PSAs: Smoking Cues Versus Other Attention-Grabbing Features

Hum Commun Res. 2011 Apr 1;37(2):275-292. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01402.x. Epub 2011 Mar 1.


This study examines how addicted smokers attend visually to smoking-related public service announcements (PSAs) in adults smokers. Smokers' onscreen visual fixation is an indicator of cognitive resources allocated to visual attention. Characteristic of individuals with addictive tendencies, smokers are expected to be appetitively activated by images of their addiction-specifically smoking cues. At the same time, these cues are embedded in messages that associate avoidance responses with these appetitive cues, potentially inducing avoidance of PSA processing. Findings suggest that segments of PSAs that contain smoking cues are processed similarly to segments that contain complex stimuli (operationalized in this case as high in information introduced) and that visual attention is aligned with smoking cues on the screen.