Study Examines Tools Used to Predict Negative Affect Reduction in Smokers

Work and family problems often cause people who have quit smoking to relapse. Many people who smoke, or have recently quit, believe that smoking relieves negative affect (NA) and anxiety that are caused by stressful situations. One tool that is used to measure a smoker’s mood is the Negative Affect subscale of the adult Smoking Consequences Questionnaire (SCQ-A). This tool gauges how much relief from NA a smoker believes they will receive from smoking, based on a hypothetical situation. But Kenneth A. Perkins of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh believes presenting smokers with an impending mood induction scenario will provide more accurate predictions of NA reduction. To test his theory, Perkins and his colleagues conducted a study on smokers using the SCQ-A and the Immediate Negative Affect Relief (INAR), which provides a hypothetical mood induction that is much more likely to happen rather than a completely hypothetical situation. Perkins said, “We hypothesized that the INAR would better predict actual change in NA during each context (mood-induction condition), as compared with the standard SCQ-A measure of expectancy for NA relief assessed only once and well before experiencing the context.”

Perkins enrolled 71 smokers in his study and had each complete five mood-induction experiments, including one neutral mood induction, three negative mood inductions and one overnight abstinence experiment. He found that the smokers were better able to predict NA reduction using the INAR versus the SCQ-A. “One implication of this result is that smokers may be better able to assess their likely affective response to upcoming smoking when directly faced with the particular mood situation during which they will smoke, as compared with their expectancy for smoking effects during hypothetical situations that may not be particularly relevant to the current smoking context,” said Perkins. He noted that although the INAR was more accurate during the three negative mood inductions, both scales were equally predictive during the overnight abstinence experiment. Perkins added, “In sum, assessment of expectancy for NA relief may be of limited use in predicting actual NA relief from smoking during a current mood situation, aside from NA due to overnight abstinence.”

Perkins, K. A., Giedgowd, G. E., Karelitz, J. L., Conklin, C. A., & Parzynski, C. S. (2011, December 5). Expectancy for Negative Affect Relief Due to Smoking May Not Be Predictive Under Acute Mood Situations. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026456

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • camille


    December 14th, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I just recently quit smoking and I tell you that the pressure to relapse is enormous! And this is all from my supposed friends that I thought would support me! But instead they are always nagging me to have just one smoke, that it won’t hurt, But I can’t do that! I know that once I light up that one time then it’s all over for me and it will be another five years before I decide again that I can do this. I can’t just drop all my friends but I sure could do without all of that pressure!

  • webb


    December 15th, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    anything that can help smokers, all the better! i would love to see them outlawed, cigarettes that is

  • 2 Hard 2 Quit

    2 Hard 2 Quit

    December 15th, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    I’ve been trying to quit smoking for the past 4-5 months but it isn’t workin’.I don’t know what to do.i am well aware of the health issues and really WANT to quit but just CAN’T.

  • stressmom


    December 18th, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    @2hard2quit- have you tried hypnosis and meditation? That helped me quit.

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