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

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

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 longer periods 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 (p = 0.01), focusing on them more often (p = 0.05) and for a longer duration (p = 0.01) 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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