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The role of affective associations in smoking behavior

Jamie L Wilkinson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Despite widespread knowledge of the detrimental personal, social, and economic consequences of smoking, approximately 20% of the adult population smokes. Large gaps in our knowledge about what influences smoking behavior still exist. The goal of the present set of studies was to further elucidate cognitive and affective factors which influence smoking and smoking cessation by utilizing the behavioral affective associations model to predict smoking behavior and successful cessation. This model makes four predictions about the relative role of cognitive and affective factors in decision making. First, cognitive factors are predictive of behavior. Second, affective associations are predictive of behavior. Third, affective associations mediate the cognitive – smoking relation. Finally, affective, associations have a unique influence on behavior independent of the mediational pathway. The role of affective associations (i.e., emotions and feelings associated with smoking) had not been previously examined independent of cognitive factors. This lack of attention was somewhat surprising given the role of affective association across a wide range of other health-related behavior.^ This dissertation consists of two studies which test the ability of the behavioral affective associations model to predict smoking (Study 1) and cessation (Study 2). The first study examined the utility of the model to predict smoking behavior in young adults. Results from this study provided support for each tenet of the model predicting lifetime smoking status or amount of cigarettes smoked in the previous 30 days. The utility of the model to predict smoking cessation across 12 weeks of a quit attempt was examined in the second study. Participants were recruited from a smoking cessation clinic and follow-up assessments were conducted 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the treatment session. Data analysis revealed that the cognitive and affective factors for smoking were distinct from affective associations and cognitive factors for quitting smoking. Affective associations related to quitting were associated with smoking at each follow-up. Taken together, the results of the present studies indicate that affective associations play an important role in smoking and cessation. Theoretical and clinical applications of these findings are discussed.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Health Sciences, Public Health

Recommended Citation

Wilkinson, Jamie L, "The role of affective associations in smoking behavior" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3396740.