Multi-Method Assessment of Distress Tolerance and Smoking-Related Factors Among Adult Daily Smokers

Amanda R. Mathew*, Bryan W. Heckman, Brett Froeliger, Michael E. Saladin, Richard A. Brown, Brian Hitsman, Matthew J. Carpenter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Although distress tolerance (DT) is associated with smoking lapse and relapse outcomes, few studies have conducted a rigorous assessment of DT across domain and method in the context of acute abstinence. In a human laboratory-based study of 106 adult daily smokers, we examined between multiple indices of DT and smoking lapse, withdrawal processes, and motivation to quit. We expected that low DT would be associated with shorter latency to smoke, greater withdrawal severity, and lower motivation to quit. Following a smoking abstinence period (≥6 hr deprived), participants completed an assessment battery including both behavioral (mirror-tracing, serial addition, cold pressor, and breathholding tasks) and self-report measures of DT (general and smoking-specific), withdrawal processes (craving, negative affect, and positive affect), and motivation to quit. Latency to smoke (range = 0-50 min) was assessed in a laboratory analogue task in which delaying smoking was monetarily rewarded. Behavioral and self-report DT indices displayed only modest intercorrelations, indicating different facets of this construct by domain and method of assessment. Tolerance of physical pain was uniquely associated with smoking choice. Both self-report DT measures were associated with abstinence-induced increases in negative affect, while only smoking-specific DT was positively associated with craving. Results are discussed within the context of guiding targeted behavioral interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-145
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Cigarette smoking
  • Distress tolerance
  • Human laboratory studies
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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