Out for a smoke: the impact of cigarette craving on zoning out during reading

Michael A. Sayette, Jonathan W. Schooler, Erik D. Reichle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Cigarette craving has powerful effects on cognitive functioning, which may promote smoking behavior and relapse. One area of cognition that has had little impact on craving research is human consciousness. Developments in consciousness research using a mindless-reading paradigm permit examination of the effects of craving on both the occurrence and the awareness of mental lapses. Forty-four smokers, who were either nicotine deprived (crave condition) or nondeprived (low-crave condition), performed a mindless-reading task. This task assesses both self-caught and probe-caught mind-wandering episodes to distinguish between lapses that are within and outside of awareness. Compared with the low cravers, those in the cigarette-crave condition were significantly more likely to acknowledge that their mind was wandering when they were probed. When we adjusted for this more-than-threefold increase in zoning out, craving also lowered the probability of catching oneself. Results suggest that craving simultaneously increases mental lapses while reducing the metacognitive capacity to notice them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-30
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • cigarette craving
  • mind wandering
  • smoking craving
  • zoning out


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