Name: Melissa Salmon

Area of Study: Health

In what program are you currently enrolled?


What year of the program are you currently in?

3rd year

Citation in APA format

Citation: Salmon, M. M., Kim, H. S., & Wohl, M. J. A. (2018). In the mindset for change: Self-reported quit attempts are a product of discontinuity-induced nostalgia and incremental beliefs. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37, 405-430.

Plain language abstract:

In the current study, we proposed that self-change among people living with addiction is a combination of motivation and the belief that behaviour can change. People should be motivated to change their behaviour when they recognize that their addiction has fundamentally changed who they are as a person (i.e., they feel discontinuous), because this recognition elicits feelings of nostalgia (i.e., longing) for who they were before they experienced addiction-related problems. Importantly, we expected nostalgia to only promote self-change among those who believed behaviour change is possible. To test our hypothesis, we recruited a community sample of people with a gambling addiction (N=120) and assessed self-change over three months. As expected, nostalgia (resulting from feelings of discontinuity) was associated with a greater likelihood of attempting self-change when people believed behaviour can change. As very few gamblers take action, these findings further our understanding of why some people can and do change.

How did the idea for this research come about? 

Previous research in our lab had shown that people living with addiction (e.g., gambling, drinking) were more ready to change their behaviour when they felt that their addiction had fundamentally changed who they are as a person (i.e., feeling self-discontinuous). This was because feelings of discontinuity elicited nostalgia (i.e., a sentimental longing) for the pre-addicted self. That is, people who felt that they have changed for the worse as a result of their addictive behaviour longed to return to a time in their life before they experienced addiction-related problems. However, many people who feel ready for change do not follow through and make an actual attempt to change their behaviour. As such, the current study filled this gap in the research by determining whether nostalgia led to an actual attempt to quit or cut down on one’s gambling behaviour over time. Importantly, we expected that the link between nostalgia and self-change would be moderated by implicit theories of behaviour. That is, we expected that the likelihood of attempting self-change would be highest among people who felt nostalgic for the pre-addicted self and who believed that behaviour was changeable.

How did you collect the data for this project? 

We recruited participants from’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) system. Participation was limited to people who had engaged in gambling activities (e.g., slot machines, poker) in the past 12 months, and who reported at least one symptom of disordered gambling. Participants responded to the recruitment notice on MTurk and completed the initial survey online.   The sample used for analysis was further limited to only participants who exhibited moderate to severe disordered gambling symptoms, who were not currently taking action to change their behaviour, and who were not seeking professional treatment for their gambling problems.   At recruitment, we also asked permission to re-contact participants for a brief follow-up session three months later. Participants who provided consent to be re-contacted were emailed a study reminder before receiving the link to complete the follow-up study online.

Was the journal you published in the first journal you submitted this paper to? 


Why did you choose this journal?

The current research draws from theories in social psychology (e.g., self-discontinuity, implicit theories) to advance our understanding of how and why people self-regulate addictive behaviour. As such, the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology was deemed a good fit.

How many other journals did you submit this paper to before it landed in the journal that eventually published your work?


What was your revision experience?

The revision experience was extremely unusual, as our paper was accepted as is. We emailed our submission directly to the editor-in-chief and received a response a few months later with the good news. Given that many of my papers have gone through multiple rounds of reviews (and in some cases, rejected), I was surprised to say the least!

How many rounds of revision did you experience?


Did you need to collect new data to satisfy a reviewer?


How long did it take from first submission to acceptance? 

3 months

Was this paper conducted as part of your MA thesis?


Was this paper conducted as part of your PhD dissertation?


Was this research conducted with your supervisor?


If yes, provide his or her name

Dr. Michael J.A. Wohl

Was this research conducted with fellow graduate students in our program? 


Was this research conducted with researchers external to Carleton?


If yes, please provide names

Hyoun S. Kim (University of Calgary)

For a copy of the pre-print, please click the PDF below:

Graduate Research Showcase – Melissa Salmon

To access the published version, please click the link below: