Positive and Negative Affect as Predictors of Urge to Smoke: Temporal Factors and Mediational Pathways

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Abstract

Elucidating interrelations between prior affective experience, current affective state, and acute urge to smoke could inform affective models of addiction motivation and smoking cessation treatment development. This study tested the hypothesis that prior levels of positive (PA) and negative (NA) affect predict current smoking urge via a mediational pathway involving current state affect. We also explored if tobacco deprivation moderated affect-urge relations and compared the effects of PA and NA on smoking urge to one another. At a baseline session, smokers reported affect experienced over the preceding few weeks. At a subsequent experimental session, participants were randomly assigned to 12-hr tobacco deprived (n = 51) or nondeprived (n = 69) conditions and reported state affect and current urge. Results revealed a mediational pathway whereby prior NA reported at baseline predicted state NA at the experimental session, which in turn predicted current urge. This mediational pathway was found primarily for an urge subtype indicative of urgent need to smoke and desire to smoke for NA relief, was stronger in the deprived (vs. nondeprived) condition, and remained significant after controlling for PA. Prior PA and current state PA were inversely associated with current urge; however, these associations were eliminated after controlling for NA. These results cohere with negative reinforcement models of addiction and with prior research and suggest that: (a) NA plays a stronger role in smoking motivation than PA; (b) state affect is an important mechanism linking prior affective experience to current urge; and (c) affect management interventions may attenuate smoking urge in individuals with a history of affective disturbance.

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