Taste dimensions in cigarette discrimination: a multidimensional scaling approach

Addict Behav. 1986;11(4):407-13. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(86)90019-5.


This study was designed to uncover the fundamental psychological taste dimensions underlying people's ability to discriminate among commercial cigarettes, determine the roles that nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide play in such taste dimensions, determine whether subjects can distinguish among cigarettes in general, and determine whether they can choose their own brand from among others. Similarities data were collected in a pairwise comparisons task. A multidimensional scaling analysis of the data revealed two dimensions, flat-sharp and high nicotine-low nicotine. Ratings of cigarette sweetness were highly related to ratings of satisfaction and pleasantness, while nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide had moderate to low correlations with the flat-sharp dimension, sweetness, satisfaction, and pleasantness. While smokers can make distinctions among cigarettes, they generally were not able to choose their own brand from among others. Implications of the study for therapeutic intervention, for constructing more palatable low nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide cigarettes, as well as for explaining weight gain upon smoking cessation were discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Smoking*
  • Tars / analysis
  • Taste*


  • Tars
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide