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Depression and anxiety symptoms moderate the relation between negative reinforcement smoking outcome expectancies and nicotine dependence.

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Smoking reinforcement expectancies-expectations that smoking modulates mood-can be powerful motivators to smoke, resulting in increased nicotine dependence. The impact of smoking reinforcement expectancies on nicotine dependence may be particularly strong in individuals with increased mood or anxiety symptoms because they may be more likely to act on expectancies with smoking behavior in order to offset their affective symptoms. This study examined levels of emotional symptom dimensions as moderators of the relation between positive and negative smoking reinforcement expectancies and nicotine dependence severity in a community sample.


In a cross-sectional design, 317 daily cigarette smokers (215 men) completed self-report measures of smoking reinforcement expectancies, mood and anxiety symptoms, and nicotine dependence.


Increasing levels of negative affect and anxiety symptoms strengthened associations between negative reinforcement smoking expectancies and nicotine dependence severity (moderation effects; (βs > .13; ps < .03) but did not moderate relations between positive reinforcement expectancies and dependence. Anhedonia did not moderate relations involving either positive or negative reinforcement smoking expectancies.


Distinct components of anxiety and depressive symptoms interact differently with smoking reinforcement expectancies. Emotional symptoms characterized by excesses in aversive (but not deficits in appetitive) functioning may amplify tendencies to compulsively act on negative reinforcement expectancies by smoking. Cessation treatments that target negative reinforcement expectancies may be particularly salient for emotionally distressed smokers.

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