Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Riley Hinson


It has been suggested that substance use transitions from a controlled to an automatic process (Tiffany, 1990). In particular, smoking has been found to appear automatic (Baxter & Hinson, 2001). Experienced smokers were able to attend to a reaction time task with minimal interference while smoking. Novice smokers’ performances were impaired when smoking. These results were based on differences in mean reaction times using analysis of variance. Another analytic approach to test the hypothesis that smoking is an automatic process is through the use of capacity coefficients and ratios. These mathematical tools allow for the direct testing of mental processing. The goal of the current study was to use these capacity measures to investigate whether smoking taxed capacity, and whether results from this type of analysis differed from a traditional ANOVA. Also, capacity ratios were compared between smokers with different patterns of alcohol and cigarette co-use. There is a well established relationship between alcohol and cigarette use, and alcohol use itself may have an impact on smoking behaviour. Capacity ratios indicated that smoking does tax capacity, even in daily smokers. It was also found through the use of a pseudosmoking condition, in which the smoking behaviour had to be ceased partway, that the inhalation of smoke seems to require its own cognitive processing. When these results were compared to a traditional ANOVA, it was found that measures of capacity provided additional information. When smokers were grouped based on cigarette and alcohol co-use, results supported the hypothesis that smokers who frequently coupled cigarettes and alcohol were impaired in processing in comparison to less frequent couplers.