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Addict Behav. 2007 Feb;32(2):425-31. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

The effects of smoking and abstinence on experience of happiness and sadness in response to positively valenced, negatively valenced, and neutral film clips.

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Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK.


Incentive motivation theories of addiction suggest that behavioural concomitants of compromised mesocorticolimbic reward activity during abstinence might include decreased affective reactions to natural reinforcers. This study tested implications for hedonic reactions in abstinent smokers. It was hypothesised that positively valenced (pleasurable) film clips would elicit lower ratings of happiness in abstinent than satiated smokers. Twenty-nine smokers, randomly assigned to either an 'abstinent' or a 'satiated' condition, and 15 non-smokers took part in a single session in which they rated (i) signs and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and (ii) affective responses to positively valenced, negatively valenced, and neutral film clips. Compared with satiated smokers, abstinent smokers rated positive clips as eliciting significantly lower levels of happiness, and this was independent of self-reported nicotine withdrawal symptoms; the scores of non-smokers fell between those of abstinent and satiated smokers, more closely approximating those of the latter. By contrast, sadness ratings in response to negative clips were not affected by smoking status, indicating that the effect on happiness was not simply due to general emotional blunting. These results suggest that, for regular smokers, stimuli that are motivationally salient for the general population may elicit reduced positive affective responses during periods of abstinence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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