Expectancies are conceptualized as the consequences that individuals anticipate from their actions [1
]. With regard to addiction, research has focused on the expectancies that individuals hold concerning the use of a number of substances including alcohol (see [2
]), tobacco (e.g., [3
]), stimulants (e.g., [4
]), and marijuana (e.g., [7
]). A large and growing body of research has indicated that these expectancies are core constructs relating to drug use. For instance, tobacco use expectancies have been shown to distinguish among smokers of varying levels of tobacco dependence and treatment-seeking behavior, and they are among the best predictors of a number of important indices of smoking behavior including withdrawal symptoms and treatment outcome [8
Although the expectancies that individuals hold regarding the effects
of substance use have attracted significant attention in the research literature (e.g. [10
]), little has been done to explore the expectancies that individuals hold about the cessation
of substance use, i.e., abstinence-related expectancies. To the best of our knowledge, there are no instruments that directly assess abstinence-related expectancies and as a consequence, little data is available on this topic. The smoking literature proves no exception to this rule [8
]. While measures that assess reasons for quitting [17
] and perceived risks and benefits of quitting [18
] are relevant, they do not address the specific “If I quit smoking, then _____.” contingency encompassed by the abstinence-related expectancy construct [8
It is ironic that sparse data address smokers’ expectancies for abstinence given the considerable effort that has been expended on treatments for smoking cessation (see [19
]). In truth, abstinence-related expectancies may have substantial significance to the understanding and treatment of tobacco dependence. For instance, smokers who anticipate more negative consequences than positive consequences upon cessation may be less likely to make a quit attempt. Those who anticipate predominantly positive outcomes with few negative outcomes may find cessation demoralizing and be at high risk for relapse. Abstinence-related expectancies represent areas of cognition that can be directly addressed by clinicians and public health campaigns, thereby enhancing the efficacy of interventions.
To fill this gap in the research literature, the goal of the present investigation was to develop and validate a measure of the range of expectancies that smokers hold for the abstinence process upon quitting smoking (i.e., all concepts that might complete the sentence “If I quit smoking, then _____.”), which we label as the Smoking Abstinence Questionnaire (SAQ). We accomplished this by composing a draft version of the SAQ, administering the measure to a large sample of cigarette users, and employing quantitative methods to assess its psychometric properties.
To protect against confirmation bias, we assumed an exploratory approach. Consequently, we did not offer specific hypotheses regarding the factor structure of the SAQ. However, consistent with research on tobacco-use expectancies [9
], we expected that participants’ responses would correspond to either positive or negative outcomes.
To examine evidence for the validity of the SAQ, we evaluated the concurrent relationship of the measure with other, key smoking-related constructs. The following hypotheses were predicated on the rationale that more chronic smokers, for whom abstinence represents a daunting prospect, should expect weaker positive outcomes and greater negative outcomes from cessation, whereas less chronic smokers, for whom abstinence connotes fewer challenges, should anticipate greater positive outcomes and weaker negative outcomes from quitting. We hypothesized that if the SAQ indeed assesses smokers’ abstinence-related expectancies, then the following relationships would be observed: 1) In a similar, yet inverse, manner that tobacco use expectancies are associated with dependence [9
], more tobacco dependent participants would report weaker abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to positive outcomes and stronger abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to negative outcomes; 2) Consistent with research on tobacco use expectancies [9
], smokers who report more motivation to quit and greater abstinence self-efficacy would report stronger abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to positive outcomes and weaker abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to negative outcomes; 3) As withdrawal effects are believed to be the most salient features of abstinence and the predominant motivators of relapse [21
], and as tobacco use expectancies are associated with withdrawal symptoms [16
], smokers who report experiencing a greater degree of withdrawal would report weaker abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to positive outcomes and stronger abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to negative outcomes; 4) Because the desire to control appetite and weight motivates cigarette use (e.g., [25
]), and weight gain is a major barrier to cessation (see [26
]), smokers who report higher levels of dietary restraint, shape concern, and weight concern would report weaker abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to positive outcomes and stronger abstinence-related expectancies pertaining to negative outcomes. Finally, we hypothesized that the SAQ would share a degree of conceptual overlap with tobacco use expectancies, as measured by the Smoking Consequences Questionnaire-Adult (SCQ-A; [15
]). The basis for this hypothesis is that in some respects, abstinence-related expectancies might be considered the inverse of smoking expectancies. For example, if one were to anticipate a great degree of health risks from smoking, he or she might be expected to anticipate improved health outcomes from abstinence. However, because we assert that abstinence-related expectancies and tobacco use expectancies represent distinct constructs, we hypothesized that SAQ scales would remain associated with the constructs described above while controlling for their conceptually related scales on the SCQ-A.