Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

David D. Drobes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Keywords

self-regulation, addiction, tobacco, negative reinforcement, task persistence

Abstract

Based on a model that considers self-control (SC) to be a limited resource, research

suggests that diminished SC resources increase the likelihood of smoking. Yet, no study

has evaluated how smoking affects SC resources. This study used a randomized, 2 x 2

crossed factorial (SC depletion manipulation X smoking manipulation), between-subjects

design to test the hypothesis that smoking restores depleted SC resources. To manipulate

SC depletion, half of the 132 dependent smokers were instructed to suppress their

emotional reaction to a brief video depicting environmental damage (i.e., Depletion),

whereas the other half were instructed to “act natural” (i.e., No Depletion) during

viewing. Half of the participants in each condition then smoked a cigarette, whereas the

other half sat patiently, without smoking (i.e., Smoke vs. No Smoke). All participants

then completed two behavioral measures of SC (Mirror Tracing Performance Task:

MTPT; and breath-holding). As hypothesized, a disordinal interaction occurred between

the Depletion and Smoking manipulations for duration of time spent on the MTPT. That

is, participants in the depletion condition showed less persistence on the MTPT, unless

they were permitted to smoke. There was no evidence for mediation of this effect from

the influence of smoking on affect and/or urge. Thus, smoking appeared to restore

depleted SC resources, independent of its effects on self-reported affect and urge.

Findings suggest that restoration of SC resources may represent another form of negative

reinforcement from smoking that may play a role in nicotine dependence, and could

inform treatment development.

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