Think abstractly, smoke less: a brief construal-level intervention can promote self-control, leading to reduced cigarette consumption among current smokers
Version of Record online: 30 JAN 2013
© 2012 The Authors, Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 108, Issue 5, pages 985–992, May 2013
How to Cite
Chiou, W.-B., Wu, W.-H. and Chang, M.-H. (2013), Think abstractly, smoke less: a brief construal-level intervention can promote self-control, leading to reduced cigarette consumption among current smokers. Addiction, 108: 985–992. doi: 10.1111/add.12100
- Issue online: 15 APR 2013
- Version of Record online: 30 JAN 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 20 DEC 2012 10:26AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 17 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 29 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Received: 17 OCT 2012
- National Science Council, Taiwan. Grant Number: NSC 101-2410-H-110-052-MY2
- Construal levels;
- current smokers;
- ego depletion;
- smoking reduction;
Inadequate self-control has been linked to behavioural and impulse-control problems such as overeating, alcohol and drug abuse and smoking. Construal-level theory (CLT) suggests that a high-level construal (highlighting central goals associated with an event), relative to a low-level construal (highlighting means and resources), promotes self-control. Inspired by CLT, we examined whether smokers primed with a high-level (versus low-level) construal mind-set would show reductions in smoking that might be mediated by improved self-control.
A single-factor (construal level: high, low, control) between-subjects design was employed. We used a widely employed why/how paradigm to induce high/low construal levels, whereby participants were asked to respond to questions about ‘why’ or ‘how’ they would maintain good physical health.
Laboratory at Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan.
A community sample consisting of 102 daily smokers participated in this experiment.
The Stroop task measuring self-control was implemented after the construal-level manipulation. The dependent measure was actual cigarette consumption during an ostensible survey.
Participants in a high-level construal mind-set smoked fewer cigarettes [mean = 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.9, 1.7] than those in a low-level construal mind-set (mean = 2.6, 95% CI: 2.2, 3.0; P < 0.01). A bootstrapping analysis supported for the role of self-control (B = −1.14, 95% CI: −1.65, −0.74, P < 0.01) as a mechanism underlying this effect.
Smokers primed with a high-level construal mind-set (i.e. cognitive abstraction) may induce greater self-control that leads to reduced cigarette consumption. Thus, reminding smokers to think abstractly about health may be an effective strategy that could help them to smoke fewer cigarettes.