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Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Mar;16(3):335-42. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt151. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

Hostility as a predictor of affective changes during acute tobacco withdrawal.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA;



Hostility--a personality trait reflective of cynical attitudes and a general mistrust of others--is associated with smoking status and relapse risk. Yet, the mechanisms linking hostility and smoking are not entirely clear. In this lab study, we tested a socioaffective model that purports that high-hostility individuals smoke to cope with maladaptive social mood states (i.e., anger and low friendliness), which become expressed and exacerbated during acute tobacco withdrawal.


Following a baseline visit at which trait hostility was assessed, adult smokers (n = 153, ≥10 cig/day) attended two counterbalanced lab visits: a deprived session following 16 hr of deprivation, and a nondeprived session. At both lab visits, affect and withdrawal symptoms were assessed at a single time point.


Higher trait hostility predicted larger deprivation-induced increases in several forms of negative affect (anxiety, depression, confusion; βs ≥ .20, ps ≤ .01) and a composite tobacco withdrawal symptom index (β = .16, p = .04) but did not predict changes in positive emotions. These effects persisted after statistically controlling for gender, nicotine dependence, and depression. Other aspects of trait aggression (i.e., verbal aggression, physical aggression, anger) did not predict deprivation-induced changes in affect and withdrawal other than state anger.


High-hostility individuals appear to experience generalized exacerbations in several negative affective states during acute tobacco withdrawal. Increases in negative affect during tobacco withdrawal may motivate negative reinforcement-mediated smoking and could underlie tobacco addiction in high-hostility smokers.

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