Implicit beliefs and automatic associations in smoking

Helen Tibboel, Bram Van Bockstaele, Adriaan Spruyt, Ingmar Franken

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Dual process models of addiction suggest that controlled, goal-directed processes prevent drug-use, whereas impulsive, stimulus-driven processes promote drug-use. The most frequently used measure of automatic smoking-related processes, the implicit association test (IAT), has yielded mixed results. We examine the validity of two alternative implicit measures: 1) the affect misattribution procedure (AMP), a measure of automatic evaluations, and 2) the relational responding task (RRT), a measure of implicit beliefs.


Smokers and non-smokers performed smoking-related versions of the AMP and the RRT and filled in questionnaires for smoking dependence. Smokers participated in two sessions: once after they just smoked, and once after being deprived for 10 h. Smokers also kept a smoking diary for a week after the second session.


We found significant differences between smokers and non-smokers on the RRT, t (86) = 2.86, p = .007, d = 0.61, and on the AMP, F (1, 85) = 6.22, p = .015, pƞ 2 = 0.07. Neither the AMP nor the RRT were affected by the deprivation manipulation. Smoking dependence predicted smoking behavior in the following week; the AMP and RRT did not explain additional variance.


Possibly, our manipulation was not strong enough to affect the motivational state of participants in a way that it changed their implicit cognitions. Future research should examine the sensitivity of implicit measures to (motivational) context.


We found limited evidence for the validity of the smoking-AMP and the smoking-RRT, highlighting the need for a critical view on implicit measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101925
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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