The Association of Positive Emotion and First Smoking Lapse: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study

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Objective: Individuals attempting to quit smoking typically have poor success rates, and the majority fail to maintain long-term abstinence. Although a large body of evidence documents the impact of negative affect on reducing abstinence, there is a much smaller body of research on positive emotions, which could be an important mechanism that is associated with successful cessation. As such, this study examined positive emotions in real-time via ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to determine whether discrete positive emotions were uniquely related to 2 cessation milestones: quit day lapse and first lapse. Method: Participants were 391 smokers who received tobacco cessation treatment. EMAs were completed pre- and postquit, and positive emotion was assessed with 3 items (enthusiastic, happy, and relaxed) rated on 5-point Likert scales. Analyses examined the associations of the means and slopes of each emotion on the current day with the likelihood of lapse on the following day. Results: When controlling for relevant covariates, prequit positive emotions were not related to quit day lapse. However, postquit positive emotions were associated with first lapse. Specifically, high levels of happiness and relaxation, as well as increasing levels of enthusiasm, happiness, and relaxation were related to a lower likelihood of next day lapse. Conclusions: These are some of the first real-time, real-world data to demonstrate that distinct positive emotions are associated with a lower risk of lapse during the postquit period among smokers attempting to quit.

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