Out for a smoke: The impact of cigarette craving on zoning out while reading

TitleOut for a smoke: The impact of cigarette craving on zoning out while reading
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSayette M.A., Schooler J.W., Reichle E.D.
JournalPsychological Science

Cigarette craving has powerful effects on cognitive functioning, which may promote smoking behavior and relapse. One area of cognition that has had little impact on craving research is human consciousness. Developments in consciousness research using a mindless-reading paradigm permit examination of the effects of craving on both the occurrence and the awareness of mental lapses. Forty-four smokers, who were either nicotine deprived (crave condition) or nondeprived (low-crave condition),performed a mindless-reading task. This task assesses both self-caught and probe-caught mind-wandering episodes to distinguish between lapses that are within and outside of awareness. Compared with the low cravers, those in the cigarette-crave condition were significantly more likely to acknowledge that their mind was wandering when they were probed. When we adjusted for this more-than-threefold increase in zoning out, craving also lowered the probability of catching oneself. Results suggest that craving simultaneously increases mental lapses while reducing the metacognitive capacity to notice them.