Cigarette craving, one hallmark sign of nicotine dependence, is often measured in laboratory settings using cue reactivity methods. How lab measures of cue reactivity relate to real world smoking behavior is unclear, particularly among non-treatment seeking smokers. Within a larger study of hormonal effects on cue reactivity (N = 78), we examined the predictive relationship of cue reactivity to smoking, each measured in several ways. Results indicated that cue-evoked craving in response to stressful imagery, and to a lesser extent, in vivo smoking cues, significantly predicted smoking behavior during the week following testing. However, this predictive relationship was absent upon controlling for reactivity to neutral cues. Nicotine dependence may moderate the relationship between cue reactivity and actual smoking, such that this predictive relationship is less robust among highly dependent smokers than among smokers low in nicotine dependence. The question of whether cue-elicited craving predicts smoking among smokers not in treatment is best answered with a qualified yes, depending on how craving is manipulated and measured. Our findings highlight important methodological and theoretical considerations for cue reactivity research. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Carpenter, M. J., Saladin, M. E., DeSantis, S., Gray, K. M., LaRowe, S. D., & Upadhyaya, H. P. (2009). Laboratory-based, cue-elicited craving and cue reactivity as predictors of naturally occurring smoking behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 34(6–7), 536–541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.03.022