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Cancer Control Research

Haaga, David A.


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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