"No Smoking" Signs Make You Want to Smoke

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It appears that "no smoking" signs make people want to smoke more, somewhat defeating the purpose of the signs.

According to a report from Big Pond News, a researcher from Oxford University called in an "ironic effect."

"When I say don't think of a pink elephant, I've just put the thought of a pink elephant in your head," said researcher Brian Earp. "You get ironic effects when you couple information that people perceive with negation."

He added, "No smoking signs in particular are everywhere. If you're a smoker walking down a street you're likely to pass five or six of these signs in windows or on doors. If you have a chronically positive attitude to smoking this could boost your craving."

Earp tested his theory by showing a group of smokers a bunch of photographs. Some included a no smoking sign in the background or at the edge of the picture, while others had the signs edited out.

Next, the volunteers were shown a series of screen images.

The research found that participants who had earlier been shown no smoking signs were more drawn to smoking-related images such as ash trays and cigarettes.

"It's a significant effect which we think would have real life implications," said Earp, who presented the findings Thursday at the British Psychological Society's annual meeting in Glasgow.

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