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Associations between ADHD symptoms and smoking outcome expectancies in a non-clinical sample of daily cigarette smokers.

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Background and objectives

Smoking outcome expectancies for positive reinforcement (PR: beliefs that smoking produces desirable outcomes) and negative reinforcement (NR: beliefs that smoking alleviates negative affect) are modifiable cognitive manifestations of affect-mediated smoking motivation. Based on prior data and theory, we hypothesized that NR and PR expectancies are associated with ADHD symptom levels in a non-clinical sample of cigarette smokers. (Am J Addict 2016; XX:XX -XX) METHODS: Daily cigarette smokers (N = 256) completed self-report measures of ADHD symptoms and smoking outcome expectancies. Cross-sectional associations of overall ADHD symptomatology and the ADHD symptom dimensions of inattention (IN: difficulty concentrating and distractibility) and hyperactivity impulsivity (HI: poor inhibitory control and motor activity restlessness) with PR and NR smoking outcome expectancies were examined.


Higher levels of overall, IN and HI ADHD symptoms were positively associated with NR smoking expectancies after statistically controlling for anxiety, depression, alcohol/drug use problems, nicotine dependence, and other smoking expectancies. Although neither HI nor IN symptom dimensions exhibited empirically unique relations to NR expectancies over and above one another, the collective variance across IN and HI was associated with NR expectancies. PR expectancies were not associated with ADHD symptoms.

Discussion and conclusions

Although PR and NR expectancies may be important etiological influences in the overall population of smokers, NR outcome expectancies appear to be disproportionately expressed in smokers with elevated ADHD symptoms. Cognitive manifestations of NR motivation, which may be modifiable via intervention, are prominent in smokers with elevated ADHD symptoms.

Scientific significance

Beliefs that smoking alleviates negative affect may underlie ADHD-smoking comorbidity.

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