Relations between anhedonia and smoking motivation

Nicotine Tob Res. 2009 Sep;11(9):1047-54. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntp098. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


Introduction: A growing literature suggests that anhedonia-an affective dimension related to the inability to experience pleasure-is associated with poor smoking cessation outcomes. Despite these findings, research of the motivational mechanisms linking anhedonia and smoking has been limited. Accordingly, the present study examined (a) relationships between anhedonia and motivationally relevant smoking characteristics and (b) whether anhedonia moderated the effects of tobacco deprivation on appetitive and aversive aspects of smoking urges.

Methods: Smokers (N = 212; >or=5 cigarettes/day) first attended a baseline session during which measures of anhedonia and smoking characteristics were completed. Prior to a subsequent experimental session, a portion of participants were randomized to one of two groups: (a) 12-hr tobacco deprivation before the session (n = 51) and (b) ad libitum smoking (n = 69).

Results: Smokers with higher levels of anhedonia reported a greater number of past failed quit attempts and a higher proportion of quit attempts that ended in rapid relapse within 24 hr, rs > .20, ps < .05. Anhedonia did not consistently correlate with smoking heaviness, chronicity, and dependence motives. Anhedonia significantly moderated the influence of tobacco deprivation on appetitive smoking urges, such that deprivation effects on appetitive urges were stronger in high anhedonia smokers (beta = .64) than in low anhedonia smokers (beta = .23). Anhedonia did not moderate deprivation effects on aversive smoking urges. This pattern of results remained robust when controlling for baseline negative affect.

Discussion: These findings elucidate anhedonia's link with smoking relapse and could be useful for developing cessation interventions for anhedonic smokers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*