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Why do smokers keep smoking when the health risks are so great? The answer may be difficulty with impulse control.
Recent research suggests that smokers are less likely to delay instant gratification even when long-term negative consequences are known. These results could impact treatment for nicotine dependence and smoking cessation programs, which are both specialty areas for health psychologists.
In a recent study, researchers used a card game that essentially allows players to pick the deck that offers immediate reward (instant gratification) despite long-term consequences. What they found is that smokers appear less able or willing to delay gratification or to manage impulses.
Excerpts from article below:[We found that as the game progressed, smokers selected this deck about 1.5 times more than nonsmokers. They could not resist the short-term pleasure despite the long-term disaster.
Our finding is admittedly nuanced: it is not risk taking per se that drives smokers’ risky behavior; it’s a weakness for activities that are profitable most of the time yet hazardous eventually.
This distinction may suggest strategies for fighting smoking. For example, hospitals and universities have started to ban smoking not only inside buildings but also at their perimeter; while originally proposed to address secondary smoking hazards, this may also have the benefit of imposing an additional short-term inconvenience on smoking. If we are right that smokers tend to have poorer self-control, such manipulations may be used to help sustain their willpower.]
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