Thought suppression and smoking cessation

Behav Res Ther. 1994 Feb;32(2):193-201. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(94)90112-0.


Deliberate suppression of intrusive thoughts has previously been shown to be associated with higher levels of intrusion compared to monitoring without suppression. In an attempt to apply this paradigm to people attempting smoking reduction and cessation, it was demonstrated that intrusive thoughts about smoking occur frequently. Subjects reported difficulty in controlling smoking related intrusions, and ratings indicated that all subjects made attempts to suppress them. In an experimental study, instructions to suppress were associated with increased frequency of intrusion compared to the control (mention) condition. A simple distracting task was highly effective in reducing intrusion frequency to below the levels obtained in the control condition, and intrusions remained significantly lower during the second (non-suppression) period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Thinking*