Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of the present study was to determine the effects smoking a cigarette of varying nicotine yields had on physiological arousal and memory for prose passages.

Forty-five male habitual smokers were assigned to either a placebo (0.1mg nicotine cigarette), a 0.7mg, or a 1.5mg nicotine cigarette group. All subjects were in good health, reported that they regularly inhale smoke, that they smoked daily, and have for at least the past 3 months. Subjects smoked their assigned cigarette in a controlled fashion prior to reading 4 prose passages from a computer screen. Immediately after reading each passage, subjects were asked to recall as much of the story as they could. Blood pressure and heart rate were taken before smoking, immediately after smoking, 30 minutes and 40 minutes after smoking.

The results indicated that subjects who smoked the 0.7mg nicotine cigarette recalled significantly more idea units of the passages than those who smoked the placebo. There was no difference between subjects who smoked the 1.5mg nicotine cigarette and those who smoked the placebo.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate significantly increased in all of the groups after smoking the cigarette. The increases in heart rate were the greatest in the two highest nicotine cigarette groups.

The results are interpreted in view of arousal theory. Those subjects who smoked the middle nicotine cigarette (0.7mg), had arousal levels elevated to optimal performance for the prose tasks, whereas those in the placebo group were under aroused, and those in the 1.5mg nicotine gorup were over aroused.

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