Smokers' Decision Making: More than Mere Risk Taking

Eyal Ert*, Eldad Yechiam, Olga Arshavsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The fact that smoking is bad for people's health has become common knowledge, yet a substantial amount of people still smoke. Previous studies that sought to better understand this phenomenon have found that smoking is associated with the tendency to take risk in other areas of life as well. The current paper explores factors that may underlie this tendency. An experimental analysis shows that smokers are more easily tempted by immediate high rewards compared to nonsmokers. Thus the salience of risky alternatives that produce large rewards most of the time can direct smokers to make bad choices even in an abstract situation such as the Iowa Gambling Task. These findings suggest that the risk taking behavior associated with smoking is not related to the mere pursuit of rewards but rather reflects a tendency to yield to immediate temptation.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere68064
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2013


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