Numerous claims have been made about the potential of cannabis to cause laziness when consumed frequently. This has led to the birth of what is now known as cannabis amotivational syndrome. A group of researchers in Tennessee recently carried out a study to determine any possible links between cannabis consumption and the amotivational syndrome. What they found out was quite surprising.
Amotivational syndrome is assumed to occur when a person consumes cannabis chronically and as a result they exhibit symptoms such as personality changes, cognitive decline, and general laziness. Those suffering from this syndrome are lack goal-directed behavior.
Link between Cannabis and Motivation
It is believed that cannabis has an effect on dopamine-mesolimbic system. This system regulates reinforcement learning, motivational salience, and motivation. Scientists have used this hypothesis to create a narrative where cannabis consumption is linked to loss in motivation. That’s where the idea of the “lazy stoner” comes in.
Details of the study
The research included 47 college students as participants. More than half of the participants were frequent cannabis users or those considered to be having the cannabis abuse disorder. To analyze motivation for goal-directed behavior, the Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task (EEfRT) was used and the results analyzed by the researchers.
The results somewhat contradicted the popular belief that cannabis causes amotivational syndrome. Cannabis users were highly motivated to carry out tasks when they perceived the reward to be of high value. In addition, when the frequency of use was factored in, probability of participants selecting a high-reward task requiring greater effort was even higher. This led the researchers to conclude that “college students who use cannabis are more likely to expend effort to obtain reward, even after controlling for the magnitude of the reward and the probability of reward receipt.”
As much as this study nullified the cannabis amotivational syndrome theory, the researchers recommended further research with larger sample sizes to define associations between frequent cannabis use and goal-directed effort over time.