The effect of framing incentives as either losses or gains with contingency management for smoking cessation

Paul Romanowich, R. J. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cumulative prospect theory predicts that losses motivate behavior more than equal gains. Contingency management procedures effectively reduce drug use by placing incentives in direct competition with the drug taking behavior. Therefore, framing incentives as losses, rather than gains should decrease drug use to a greater extent, given equivalent incentives. We examined whether contingent vouchers described as either losses or gains differentially affected smoking abstinence rates. Over 5 consecutive days, participants could either gain $75 per day for verified abstinence or lose $75 per day (initial endowment = $375) for continuing to smoke. As a result, loss-framed participants were more likely to achieve at least one day of abstinence. There was a trend towards loss-framed participants reducing the amount smoked more than gain-framed participants. However, participants in the gain-framed group were more likely to maintain abstinence, once initiated. The results partially support cumulative prospect theory and suggest additional ways to initiate behavior change using incentives, outside of using larger magnitude incentives in contingency management procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2084-2088
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Cigarette smoking
  • Contingency management
  • Cumulative prospect theory
  • Smoking cessation
  • Verbal contingency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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