Thinking about craving: An experimental analysis of smokers' spontaneous self-reports of craving

William G. Shadel, Raymond Niaura, David B. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study evaluated whether smokers generate spontaneous expressions of craving (i.e., expressions of an urge, craving, desire, want, or need) in response to cues designed to provoke a craving state. In a 2 (smoking deprivation: 1 and 12 h)×2 (cue type: neutral, active) within-subjects design, smokers were asked to think aloud in an unstructured way (i.e., "describe everything you are thinking and feeling right now"). Results revealed a main effect for cue type on think-aloud craving responses: Smokers spontaneously generated a greater number of craving-related cognitions during active cue exposure compared with neutral cue exposure, both during both 1- and 12-h deprivation. This same pattern of effects was not found for a self-report assessment of craving, which was insensitive to cue-provoked changes in craving in the 1-h deprivation condition. These results suggest that smokers do spontaneously experience craving, independent of an explicit assessment of craving and that think-aloud methods may provide a novel assessment of craving that may be relatively more sensitive than self-report methods under some circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-815
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Craving
  • Smokers
  • Think-aloud method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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