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Increasing Nicotine Cost and Decreasing Nicotine Dose are not Equivalent Manipulations

Smith, Tracy T. (2015) Increasing Nicotine Cost and Decreasing Nicotine Dose are not Equivalent Manipulations. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: Two factors that have been shown to affect smoking behavior are the cost of cigarettes and the dose of nicotine. Behavioral economics posits that the two factors may be related through the concept of unit price (unit price = cost/reinforcer magnitude). According to this framework, increases in the cost of a reinforcer and decreases in the magnitude of a reinforcer are equivalent manipulations. However, this assumption has not been thoroughly tested. Method: Across three studies, a rodent self-administration model was used to assess the relationship between increases in nicotine cost and decreases in nicotine dose. In Aim 1, each rat experienced six unit prices twice: cost was manipulated and dose was held constant across one set of combinations, and cost was held constant and nicotine dose was manipulated across the other set of combinations. In Aim 2, the same procedure was used as in Aim 1 except that very low nicotine doses, hypothesized to below the threshold for maintaining self-administration, were used for the dose manipulation. In Aim 3, the hypothesis that consumption should be the same at a single unit price regardless of the cost/dose combination used to create it was tested. Results: Results show that across the range of unit prices that maintain consumption, behavior is more sensitive to nicotine dose than to nicotine cost. However, when above-threshold doses are used, increases in nicotine cost maintain consumption across a smaller range of unit prices than decreases in dose. When very low nicotine doses are used for dose reduction, animals consumed less nicotine than they did for the ratio-escalation manipulation. Finally, nicotine consumption was not equivalent across a variety of unit price combinations forming a single unit price. Discussion: Results of the present study are the first to show that increases in the cost of nicotine and decreases in the dose of nicotine are not equivalent manipulations, and they raise questions about a fundamental assumption within the behavioral economics framework.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Smith, Tracy T.tgt4@pitt.eduTGT4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDonny, Eric Cedonny@pitt.eduEDONNY
Committee MemberSved, Alan Fsved@pitt.eduSVED
Committee MemberShiffman, Saulshiffman@pitt.eduSHIFFMAN
Committee MemberPerkins, Kennethperkinska@upmc.eduKPERKINS
Committee MemberTorregrossa, Marytorregrossam@upmc.eduTORREGRO
Date: 27 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 July 2015
Approval Date: 27 September 2015
Submission Date: 5 August 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 99
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Behavioral economics, Nicotine, Policy
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 02:04
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:42


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