The effect of eye movements on craving, pleasantness and vividness in smokers

Jet Rooijmans, Niek H.G. Rosenkamp, Paula Verholt, Robin A. Visser


The presence of craving is an important factor in continuing smoking. Following the Elaborated Intrusion (EI) theory of Desire, craving is effective through the formation of smoking-related mental images. In the current study, craving was generated through the use of a future personal smoking-related image. Eye movements were observed in accordance with the Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) intervention. The effect of these eye movements on craving was investigated. In addition, the effect of eye movements on the pleasantness and vividness of the image was examined. 36 participants took part in a within-subjects design with repeated measures. In line with expectations, perceived craving decreased immediately after the experimental condition (eye movements) was experienced. This decrease was not found in the control condition (fixation on a plain wall). After recall of the smoking-related image, the extra measurement showed that the decrease was temporary. Contrary to expectations, the degree of pleasantness and vividness did not decrease after eye movements. In conclusion, the eye movements were found to have only a temporary effect on craving for cigarettes, and did not result in desensitization of the pleasantness and vividness of the personal smoking-related images.


craving; smoking; EI-theory; eye movement; EMDR

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