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Gender differences in negative reinforcement smoking expectancies.

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Previous research suggests that females may be more motivated to smoke for negative reinforcement (NR) than males. However, it remains unclear whether gender differences in smoking outcome expectancies for negative smoking reinforcement-an important theoretical and clinical target defined as beliefs that smoking alleviates negative affect-exist above and beyond gender differences in depression and/or other outcome expectancies.


Relations between gender and negative smoking reinforcement expectancies were examined in two independent samples. Sample 1 consisted of non-treatment seeking daily smokers (Male n = 188; Female n = 91) recruited from Southern California (49.5% Black, 32.2% Caucasian, and 18.3% other race/ethnicity). Sample 2 consisted of treatment seeking daily smokers (Male n = 257; Female n = 237) in Northern Florida and Vermont (10.7% Black, 82.9% Caucasian, and 6.4% other).


Females (vs. males) reported stronger NR smoking expectancies with and without statistically controlling for nicotine dependence, other smoking expectancies, and anxiety and depression in both samples (βs = .06 to .14, ps = .06 to < .001).


Beliefs that smoking alleviates negative affect may reflect a gender-specific etiological process disproportionately prominent in women. Enhancing ability to cope with negative affect without smoking or challenge NR expectancies may be particularly important for cessation treatment in women.

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