Recent research suggests that mindfulness benefits emotion regulation and smoking cessation. However, the mechanisms by which mindfulness affects emotional and behavioral functioning are unclear. One potential mechanism, lower affective volatility, has not been empirically tested during smoking cessation. This study examined longitudinal associations among mindfulness and emotional responding over the course of smoking cessation treatment among predominantly low-socioeconomic status (SES) African American smokers, who are at high risk for relapse to smoking and tobacco-related health disparities. Participants (N = 399, 51% female, mean age = 42, 48% with annual income <$10,000) completed a baseline measure of trait mindfulness. Negative affect, positive affect, and depressive symptoms were assessed at five time points during smoking cessation treatment (up to 31 days postquit). Volatility indices were calculated to quantify within-person instability of emotional symptoms over time. Over and above demographic characteristics, nicotine dependence, and abstinence status, greater baseline trait mindfulness predicted lower volatility of negative affect and depressive symptoms surrounding the quit attempt and up to 1 month postquit, ps < 0.05. Although volatility did not mediate the association between greater mindfulness and smoking cessation, these results are the first to show that mindfulness is linked to lower affective volatility (or greater stability) of negative emotions during the course of smoking cessation. The present study suggests that mindfulness is linked to greater emotional stability and augments the study of mindfulness in diverse populations. Future studies should examine the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on volatility and whether lower volatility explains effects of mindfulness-based treatments on smoking cessation.
- African Americans
- emotion regulation