Why people trying to quit smoking should avoid watching Mad Men: The influence of on-screen smoking cues

Attentional bias in smokers: exposure to dynamic smoking cues in contemporary movies

 

From Journal of Psychopharmacology 

Tobacco use is still prevalent in films, this study explores how people respond to on-screen smoking images by examining eye movement of smokers and non-smokers while watching a movie clip, using eye-tracking technology. This research reveals that smokers have an attentional bias for smoking related pictorial cues.  Smokers notice the images quicker and gaze longer. It is suggested these observations should be taken into account by therapies designed help stop people smoking, in order to increase success rates and to prevent relapses.

Abstract

Research has shown that smokers have an attentional bias for pictorial smoking cues. The objective of the present study was to examine whether smokers also have an attentional bias for dynamic smoking cues in contemporary movies and therefore fixate more quickly, more often and for longerperiods of time on dynamic smoking cues than  non-smokers. By drawing upon established methods for assessing attentional biases for pictorial cues, we aimed to develop a new method for assessing attentional biases for dynamic smoking cues. We examined smokers’ and non-smokers’ eye movements while watching a movie clip by using eye-tracking technology. The sample consisted of 16 smoking and 17 non-smoking university students. Our results confirm the results of traditional pictorial attentional bias research. Smokers initially directed their gaze more quickly towards smoking-related cues (p¼.01), focusing on them more often (p¼.05) and for a longer duration (p¼.01) compared with non-smokers. Thus, smoking cues in movies directly affect the attention of smokers. These findings indicate that the effects of dynamic smoking cues, in addition to other environmental smoking cues, need to be taken into account in smoking cessation therapies in order to increase successful smoking cessation and to prevent relapses.

 

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Article details

Lochbuehler, K., Voogd, H., Scholte, R., & Engels, R. (2010). Attentional bias in smokers: exposure to dynamic smoking cues in contemporary movies Journal of Psychopharmacology DOI: 10.1177/0269881110388325

 

     
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