Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

December 2007


Published in Psychopharmacology 192 (2007), pp. 87–95. Copyright © 2007 Springer-Verlag. Used by permission.


Rationale – The possibility that individuals administer nicotine to self-regulate persistent negative affect has received interest as a possible explanation for the high prevalence of affectively vulnerable smokers. Relatively overlooked, however, is the possibility that smokers might also self-administer nicotine to elevate low positive affect.

Objectives – This study examined whether nicotine administration augmented anhedonic smokers’ positive affective response to a positive mood induction.

Materials and methods – Fifty regular smokers (50% female) underwent two positive mood inductions during which they smoked either a nicotinized or denicotinized cigarette in counterbalanced order. Positive affect was assessed before and at two time points after smoking.

Results – Random effects regression showed a significant anhedonia by condition-by-time interaction [t (181) = −2.01, p = 0.04], supporting the hypothesis that anhedonia moderated nicotine’s effect on changes in positive affect. Simple effect analyses showed a significant condition-by-time interaction among high anhedonic smokers [t(91) = 2.47, p= 0.01] but not among less anhedonic smokers [t (91) = 0.34, p = 0.73].

Conclusion – Smoking nicotine vs placebo heightened anhedonic smokers’ ability to be induced into a positive mood, whereas nicotine had no effect on more hedonic smokers’ positive mood.