Influence of escalating alternative reinforcer values on cigarette choice

William W. Stoops, Mégan M. Poole, Andrea R. Vansickel, Craig R. Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The availability of alternative reinforcers reduces drug taking. Escalating alternative reinforcer values have been used to initiate and maintain abstinence from drug use. A reset in reinforcer value has been added to the schedule of alternative reinforcer presentation to discourage relapse. The purpose of this preliminary study was to test the influence of escalating and escalating and resetting alternative reinforcer value on cigarette choice in the human laboratory. Fourteen daily cigarette smokers completed this experiment, which required one practice and three experimental sessions. During each experimental session, subjects made six choices between smoking a cigarette and receiving money, available under Constant, Escalating or Escalating and Resetting conditions. The total number of cigarettes chosen and puffs taken, but not the maximum consecutive number of cigarettes choices, was decreased in the Escalating condition relative to the Constant condition. The maximum number of consecutive cigarettes chosen was decreased in the Escalating and Resetting condition relative to the Constant condition. The proportion of money earned was increased in the Escalating condition relative to the Constant and Escalating and Resetting conditions. These initial findings indicate that whereas an escalating alternative reinforcer schedule reduces cigarette smoking overall, an escalating and resetting alternative reinforcer schedule may reduce repeated cigarette smoking (i.e., relapse).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-305
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Cancer Institute grant R21 CA 124881 to WWS. Startup funds from the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science to WWS also supported this project. The funding sources had no role in study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report or decision to submit this paper for publication. All authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this project. We thank Paul E.A. Glaser, M.D., Ph.D. and Frances P. Wagner, R.N., for their medical assistance and Amanda Bucher, Sean Durkin, Michelle Gray, Bryan Hall, Richard Heifner, Kathryn Hays, Erika Pike, Matthew Stanley and Sarah Veenema for their technical assistance.


  • Alternative reinforcer
  • Choice
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Humans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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