DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Self-regulatory focus theory (Higgins,
1997) distinguishes two ways people seek to approach pleasure and avoid pain.
In the promotion focus people attempt to achieve aspirations and meet their
ideals; they are sensitive to information about gains vs. non-gains and prefer
approach tactics. In the prevention focus people try to live up to
responsibilities and remain safe; they are sensitive to loss vs. non-loss
information and prefer avoidance tactics. Most efforts to motivate cigarette
smokers to abstain adopt a prevention focus, emphasizing dangers (e.g., lung
cancer) to be averted, and downplay the promotion focus, which would highlight
gains to be achieved (e.g., feelings of wellness). This project tests the
relevance of self-regulatory focus to smoking. In study 1 regular smokers (N =
84) will complete an idiographic, computerized measure of individual
differences in regulatory focus, along with self-reports of optimism,
depressive symptoms, and motives for quitting smoking. These measures will be
repeated one month later, and the retest reliability and discriminant validity
of the regulatory focus measure will be evaluated. In study 2 (N = 55 regular
smokers), the regulatory focus measure will be correlated with smoking outcome
expectancies. In study 3, regulatory focus will be manipulated by asking
participants (N = 128 regular smokers) to describe how their aspirations
(promotion) or their sense of obligation (prevention) have changed. Those in a
promotion focus should better remember vignettes involving approach coping,
whereas those in a prevention focus should better remember vignettes of
avoidance coping. If results support the applicability of self-regulatory focus
theory to smoking, this could have implications for improving motivational
appeals in smoking cessation programs.
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