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Social Discounting and Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy


Matthew Bradstreet, M.A., Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont UHC Campus, Old Hall 3, Rm 3111 Burlington, VT 05401, USA. E-mail:


In this study, we examined the association between social discounting and smoking status in a cohort of pregnant cigarette smokers (n = 91), quitters (n = 27), or never-smokers (n = 30). The smokers and quitters were participants in clinical trials on smoking cessation and relapse prevention, whereas the never-smokers were controls in a study on nicotine withdrawal during pregnancy. Social discounting was assessed using a paper-and-pencil task that assesses the amount of hypothetical money a person is willing to forgo in order to share with individuals in their social network ranging from the person who is emotionally closest to them to a mere acquaintance. The amount that women were willing to forgo in order to share decreased hyperbolically as a function of social distance, with smokers exhibiting steeper discounting functions (i.e., less generosity) than quitters or never-smokers; discounting functions of quitters and never-smokers did not differ significantly. In multivariate analyses controlling for potential sociodemographic and other confounds, social discounting remained a significant predictor of smoking status among smokers versus quitters. Overall, these results suggest that individual differences in social discounting may be a factor influencing the choices that women make about quitting smoking upon learning of a pregnancy. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.