Implicit Processes in Smoking Interventions
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Although explicit attitudes have traditionally been used in predictive models of health behaviour, recent theorizing suggests that implicit attitudes might be more useful in predicting socially undesirable or addictive behaviours. In Studies 1 through 3, smokers’ explicit and implicit attitudes were examined to compare the predictive utility of each. Results confirmed that implicit attitudes are better at predicting impulse-driven behaviours, such as smoking consumption. Consequently, implicit attitudes also predict whether a quit attempt will be successful. In contrast, explicit attitudes are better at predicting deliberative outcomes, such as having intentions to quit, and making planned quit attempts. Extending these findings, in Studies 4 and 5, the effectiveness of a novel affirmation intervention designed to break the association between smoking and stress-reduction is evaluated. Preliminary results demonstrate that an affirmation intervention designed to break the smokers’ reliance on smoking as a means of coping with stress can have beneficial and sustainable effects in cessation outcomes. The impact on smokers’ implicit attitudes as a possible mediating role is discussed. Implications for more effective health interventions are also discussed.