Time to generate craving item ratings as an implicit measure of craving processes: A replication study and expanded validation
Germeroth, Lisa Jennifer
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Drug craving is ordinarily assessed using explicit, self-report measures. Implicit measures of craving, however, have potential to provide a fuller understanding of motivational processes of drug use, including cigarette smoking. The current study further validated a response time measure (speed of responding to craving items) as an implicit measure of craving that provides information about processes involved in the generation of craving appraisals. Response time to craving items was hypothesized to be a dimension of craving strength and was examined among other putative measures of craving strength, including inter-item variability and certainty. Nicotine dependent smokers ( n = 100) completed a cue-reactivity procedure, latency to smoke task, and Cigarette Purchase Task at two sessions separated by 24 hr. Craving, craving certainty, and negative affect items were presented during the cue-reactivity and latency to smoke tasks. Half of participants were overnight abstinent at Session 2. Previous findings were replicated: we observed faster response times at high and low levels of craving report (similar trends were observed for inter-item variability and craving certainty), and positive correlations between response time and inter-item variability. Response time was not associated significantly with self-report certainty. Finally, response time predicted negative affect, latency to smoke, and smoking reinforcement beyond craving level and more consistently predicted outcomes relative to inter-item variability and self-report certainty. These results further validate craving response time as an implicit measure of craving processes and suggest that response time could aid researchers and clinicians in predicting smoking-related behaviors.