Researchers at the University of Iowa are studying the psychology of cigarette smokers to determine what types of messages might make them want to quit. Austin Baldwin, the U-of-I’s principal investigator on the study, says they want to learn more about why smokers continue to smoke, even when they know it’s a deadly habit.

"It’s not any sort of clinical intervention or anything like that," Baldwin says. "What we’re interested in is how people respond to different messages about smoking, messages that differ in their content, based on whether things are important to people or not, based on who’s the source of the message, those sorts of factors."

Cigarette packs, and even cigarette ads, are plastered with all sorts of health warnings, but Baldwin says they often have little impact. Baldwin says, "When faced with that sort of threatening information, people tend to respond in a defensive sort of way and so people have the ability to ignore those kinds of messages and that suggests we need to better understand ways in which people will be receptive to that kind of information."

The study is signing up volunteer smokers right now and will need about 120 total. Baldwin explains what they’re looking for in a volunteer. The volunteers need to be at least 18 years old, smoke at least one cigarette a day and must have smoked at least 100 cigarette in their lifetime — not just those who smoke the occasional or weekend cigarette.

Baldwin says volunteers will be compensated for their time, which is expected to be less than an hour in one in-person visit and a follow-up phone call a month later. To enroll, call (319) 335-3768.