In this laboratory, we investigate the psychological processes that contribute to continued smoking despite the high personal and societal costs of tobacco use.  We also study the process of quitting smoking and try to use this information to develop better treatments to help people stop smoking for life.

Our research focuses on helping people stop smoking because:

  • Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and takes approximately 480,000 lives annually (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015)

  • Most people who smoke report that they want to quit smoking, yet only about 4% are able to stop smoking for 3 months or longer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002)

  • Existing treatments can double the chances of quitting successfully (Fiore et al., 2008), but could be improved and made more affordable, accessible, and acceptable (Fiore et al.,  2004)

  • We do not know enough about how our current treatments work to efficiently refine them or to match individuals to particular treatments (McCarthy, Bolt, & Baker, 2007)

In our research, we seek to address this deadly and costly behavior in several ways:

  • We seek to enhance our understanding of the factors that maintain smoking, with an emphasis on learning. We also examine risk factors for difficulty quitting (e.g., impulsive decision making) and protective factors associated with successful quitting (e.g., stable levels of positive emotions).
  • We are working to develop new treatments and to identify the psychological mechanisms by which existing treatments work, in the hope of increasing the efficacy of next-generation treatments.
  • We are also interested in describing and predicting patterns of change, in the hope of developing new ways of predicting success in quitting that may lead to new treatment-matching algoritms or by monitoring early cessation outcomes that may lead to adaptive treatments.
To learn more about our recent work modeling relapse processes using latent class analysis, click here.

To learn more about our research team, click here.

To learn more about smoking, health, and quitting, click here.