Internal Validity of Two Promising Methods of Altering Temporal Orientation among Cigarette Smokers


Relapse to smoking continues to be among the most urgent global health concerns. Novel, accessible, and minimally invasive treatments to aid in smoking cessation are likely to improve the reach and efficacy of smoking cessation treatment. Encouraging prospection by decreasing delay discounting (DD) is a new therapeutic target in the treatment of smoking cessation. Two early-stage interventions, delivered remotely and intended to increase prospection, decrease DD and promote cessation are Episodic Future Thinking (EFT) and Future Thinking Priming (FTP). EFT and FTP have demonstrated at least modest reductions in delay discounting, but understanding whether these interventions are internally valid (i.e., are accomplishing the stated intention) is key. This study examined the internal validity of EFT and FTP. Participants (n = 20) seeking to quit smoking were randomly assigned to active or control conditions of EFT and FTP. Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC2015) was used to examine the language participants used while engaged in the tasks. Results revealed significant differences in the language participants used in the active and control conditions. Women employed more words than men, but no other demographic differences were found in language. The active conditions for both tasks showed a greater emphasis on future orientation. Risk-avoidance was significantly higher in the active vs. control condition for EFT. Remote delivery of both EFT and FTP was valid and feasible as participants adhered to instructions in the remote prompts, and trends in DD were in the expected directions.

O’Connor, R.J.; Carl, E.; Shevorykin, A.; Stein, J.S.; Vantucci, D.; Liskiewicz, A.; Bensch, L.; Thorner, H.; Marion, M.; Hyland, A.; Sheffer, C.E. Internal Validity of Two Promising Methods of Altering Temporal Orientation among Cigarette Smokers. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 12601.