Quit Smoking with Applied Behavior Analysis!

Source: https://flic.kr/p/9qocnn

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

President, bSci21Media, LLC

The newest issue of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis reported on a study by Romanowich and Lamb (2015) on smoking cessation.  The researchers investigated fixed vs escalating reinforcement schedules on smoking abstinence.  More specifically, participants in the fixed reinforcement condition received $19.75 for each smoke-free breath sample, while participants in the escalating reinforcement condition received $5.00 for their first smoke-free breath sample with a 50 cent increase for each sample thereafter.  Finally, participants in the control condition received payment for delivering any breath sample.  

The results of this study are actually in conflict with earlier studies investigating opioid dependency.  Also of interest is that control participants maintained similar levels of abstinence as participants in the fixed reinforcement condition, while those in the escalating condition abstained longer despite relatively smaller reinforcer values for the first six weeks.

Do you struggle with addiction?  Would you find this procedure useful?  Let us know in the comments below!  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email subscription to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment on "Quit Smoking with Applied Behavior Analysis!"

  1. So I’m a first semester grad student. I’m really interested in addiction treatment, and this article came up (yesterday, actually) in a database search I did. This type of thing is in line with something I would love to build on for my thesis, although it might be unrealistic considering the fact that it relies on paying people to quit. I think it’s awesome that the schedule of reinforcement that works best is becoming more apparent, but there’s still an issue of maintenance after the treatment is done. With something like smoking, it seems pretty tricky considering the amount of contingencies in place. It’s pretty interesting that this kind of treatment is working with addiction in general, though. On a societal level, instead of jailing drug addicts, maybe we take addicts in, pay them contingent on abstinence, get them a job, help them get a place to live and people to relate to if they don’t have it…give them contact with natural reinforcement they’re lacking, and then slowly fade the help out. There’s no money in that, though…

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