Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph A. Vandello, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert C. Schlauch, Ph.D.


African American, Cyberball, health disparities, social exclusion, tobacco


In comparison to White smokers, Black smokers are more likely to report both discrimination and less success in smoking cessation. No previous study has tested the causal relationship between actual experienced racial discrimination and smoking variables associated with cessation. The goal of this study was to test the casual influence of interpersonal racial discrimination on smoking motivation (i.e., the urge to smoke cigarettes, cessation self-efficacy, and smoking behavior) using a controlled experimental design. We used a virtual ball-playing game to create a laboratory model of racial discrimination. A 2x2 between-subjects factorial design (inclusion/exclusion vs. ingroup/outgroup) was used to randomly assign participants to one of four groups: 1.) included/ingroup, 2.) included/outgroup, 3.) excluded/ingroup (ostracism), and 4.) excluded/outgroup (racial discrimination). Sixty-nine Black smokers were recruited from the Tampa Bay area. Results show that participants in the excluded conditions reported lower cessation self-efficacy than those in the included conditions. Participants in the outgroup conditions had reduced latency to smoke compared to those in the ingroup conditions. There were no main effects of social inclusion on cravings or latency to smoke, no statistically significant interactions for social inclusion x group membership, and no statistically significant mediation or moderation analyses. This laboratory simulation of racial discrimination shows a causal relationship between exclusion and low cessation self-efficacy, which contributes to a better understanding of what influences low success in smoking cessation attempts among Black smokers.