Pronunciation: [kjˈuː ɹɪɐktˈɪvɪti] (IPA)

Cue reactivity is a term used in psychology to describe the physiological and psychological response to a specific cue or stimuli. The spelling of this word can be explained using IPA phonetic transcription as /kju: rɪæk'tɪvɪti/. The initial sound is represented by /k/ followed by the diphthong /ju:/ and the consonant /r/. The middle syllable consists of the vowel /ɪ/ and the consonant cluster /æk/. The final syllable contains the vowel /ɪ/ and the suffix /ti/ which forms a noun. Therefore, cue reactivity refers to the response triggered by a certain cue.

CUE REACTIVITY Meaning and Definition

  1. Cue reactivity refers to the psychological and physiological response that individuals experience when exposed to cues or triggers associated with a specific behavior or addictive substance. Typically studied in the context of addiction and substance abuse, cue reactivity involves the heightened sensitivity and intensified craving response observed in individuals when presented with cues that remind them of their addictive behavior or substance of choice.

    Psychologically, cue reactivity manifests as an increased attentional focus and arousal towards these cues, often accompanied by a strong desire or craving to engage in the behavior or consume the substance associated with the cues. Physiologically, cue reactivity is frequently accompanied by changes in autonomic nervous system activity, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating.

    This phenomenon is thought to be a result of classical conditioning, where individuals develop conditioned responses to certain stimuli that have been frequently paired with their addictive behaviors or substances, and subsequently trigger the same response in the absence of the addictive behavior or substance itself.

    Understanding cue reactivity is essential in addiction treatment, as it helps clinicians identify and address the specific triggers that may contribute to relapse. By learning to manage cue reactivity, individuals can develop coping strategies to reduce the intensity of their cravings and maintain abstinence from the addictive behavior or substance.


The etymology of the word "cue reactivity" can be broken down as follows:

1. Cue: The word "cue" ultimately derives from the Old French word "cue", meaning "tail" or "hint". It entered Middle English in the early 16th century, primarily used in theatrical contexts to refer to a signal or prompt for an actor to begin a specific action or speech. Over time, the term expanded to encompass various types of signals or prompts.

2. Reactivity: The term "reactivity" comes from the Latin word "reactivus", which means "capable of being stirred up" or "subject to action". It is derived from the Latin verb "reagere", meaning "to react". In English, "reactivity" refers to the property or ability of substances, organisms, or systems to undergo a reaction or respond to stimuli.