Controlling expectations - A 2001 conditioning study taught smokers
to expect to be able to smoke during specific situations. It encouraged
participants to try to identify when a use cue had occurred.20
As with the green triangle study, researchers discovered that
encountering and noticing the use cue would generate cravings, with
increased salivation and skin conduction. It found that the more aware
we become of our use cues, the more profound use expectations become.
Far more importantly, it found that once study participants were told that
they would no longer be able to smoke once the previously identified use
cue appeared, that cravings were thereafter absent and extinguished.
Can conscious expectations control both subconscious expectations and
the presence or absence of craving? Absolutely! It means that what we
think and believe is critical, that what is expected can occur.21
My most dreaded use cue was walking into the pub after work and having
a couple of beers with the guys, as we debated and solved the world's
problems. But I'd lost my longest attempt ever by combining alcohol
with a false belief that I could handle "just one."