Psychological Reports, 1990, 6 6 , 186. @ Psychological Reports 1990


Universie of New Hampshire A behavioral theory of self-control, developed separately by Ainslie (1974) and Rachlin (1974), states that the value of a reinforcer decreases as the delay between making a choice and receiving the reinforcer increases. The more immediate a reinforcer, the greater its value and conversely, the more distant a reinforcer, the less its value. If we consider cigarette smoking in relation to the Ainslie-Rachlin model, we could say that a person who smokes is given a choice between a cigarette, a small immediate reinforcer, and better health, or some other larger, delayed reinforcer. According to the model, the choice will be for the larger reinforcer only when the next cigarette is some temporal distance away, perhaps the next morning or immediately after finishing a cigarette. The smoker will choose a cigarette as the occasion for smoking becomes imminent, in other words, when some time has passed since the last clgarette. The goal of this study was twofold: ( 1 ) to increase the delay to the next clgarette and so allow other reinforcers to replace the reinforcement obtained from smolung, and ( 2 ) assuming relapse will occur, to make the behavior of quitting smoking a reinforcing event. Twenty-four university students served in a smoking-reduction treatment in which each subject attempted to quit smoking one day a week. A second "quit day" was added at the end of the fourth week. Subjects met with the experimenter once a week to discuss progress and problems. Baseline smoking rate at inception of treatment was 14.5 cigarettes per day (SD 3.4) when both groups were combined. Treatment for Group 1 lasted six weeks; a replication treatment (Group 2 ) lasted 10 weeks. At termination of treatment, daily consumption averaged 8.0 cigarettes (SD 4.8), and four subjects were no longer smoking. At 1-yr. follow-up, seven subjects were no longer smoking. When four of these subjects were queried about the difficulty of quitting, they reported the technique had made quitting quite easy. Of the 17 subjects still smoking at follow-up, eight said they were either smoking less or considerably less. Four subjects were not reached at follow-up and were assumed to be smokers. Most of the subjects had little dLFficulty abstaining from cigarettes for 24 hr. because the delay to the next cigarette was "tolerable." Some subjects said they had never before gone that long without smoking. Several subjects reported violations after quitting that were not followed by a full-blown relapse. This techruque may be especially effective in preventing relapse following a "violation" of smoking a cigarette after abstaining for several days or longer. Delaying a cigarette for small amounts of time reinforced quitting for some subjects and allowed other reinforcers to have more control over behavior. This technique may have long-term effects on smokers by allowing them to delay a cigarette without quitting altogether and by preventing relapse following a violation after they have quit. REFERENCES AINSLIE, G . W. (1974) Impulse control in pigeons. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 21, 485-489. R A c H L ~ H, . (1974) Self-control. Behaviorism, 2 , 94-107.

Accepted January 26, 1990.

'Address correspondence to Sandra Rutter, Department of Psychology, Conant Hall, Durham, N H 03824-3567.

Cigarette-smoking reduction in university students.

Psychological Reports, 1990, 6 6 , 186. @ Psychological Reports 1990 CIGARETTE-SMOKING REDUCTION IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ' SANDRA RUTTER Universie of...
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