Reward motivation as a mechanism linking personality and intermittent smoking

Open Access
MacLean, Robert Ross
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 04, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Stephen J Wilson, Ph D, Dissertation Advisor
  • Stephen Jeffrey Wilson, Committee Chair
  • William Ray, Committee Member
  • Aaron Lee Pincus, Committee Member
  • Peter Cm Molenaar, Committee Member
  • Charles Geier, Special Member
  • nondaily smokers
  • intermittent smokers
  • disinhibition
  • EMA
The negative public health impact of daily smoking has been well established over decades of empirical research. As such, traditional conceptualizations of nicotine addiction emphasize behaviors typically experienced by daily smokers such as withdrawal avoidance. Nondaily/intermittent smokers (ITS), a rising population with similar negative health consequences as daily smokers, have received comparatively little attention. Most notably, nondaily smokers exhibit comparable rates of cessation failure and number of quit attempts as daily smokers. Since nondaily smokers do not smoke on a regular basis, withdrawal avoidance is not likely to motivate smoking maintenance and cessation failure. Instead, nondaily smokers may be motivated by “peak seeking” or the acute rewarding effects of nicotine. Individual factors associated with sensitivity to rewarding stimuli can provide insight into potential mechanisms by which peak seeking motivates smoking behavior. The current study used a rewarded antisaccade task followed by a 7-day ecological momentary assessment period to evaluate the relationship between disinhibition traits, reward motivation, and momentary factors related to reward seeking and the subjective effects of nicotine. More specifically, the analysis tested the hypothesis that reward motivation mediates the relationship between disinhibition and momentary behavior. Results failed to support a mediational model; however, the results highlighted potentially important factors related to smoking behavior in ITS. Primary results suggest that ITS with greater disinhibition and reward motivation report higher momentary adventurousness after smoking a cigarette, but not during nonsmoking occasions. Therefore, within nondaily smokers, consideration of alternative factors that motivate smoking behavior may help better conceptualize problematic smoking in this population. Additionally, relationships between personality, reward motivation, and momentary responses highlight the potential importance of studying co-occurring negative health behaviors in developing intervention strategies.