The effects of smoking self-identity and quitting self-identity on attempts to quit smoking

Bas van den Putte, Marco Yzer, Marc C Willemsen, Gert-Jan de Bruijn
Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 2009, 28 (5): 535-44

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of two types of self-identity on attempts to quit smoking: self-identity in terms of smoking and self-identity in terms of quitting.

DESIGN: A prospective survey among an initial sample of 3,411 smokers. Smoking history variables and psychosocial variables from the theory of planned behavior are also measured.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Intention to quit smoking and smoking cessation attempts 4 months later.

RESULTS: Both smoking identity and quitting identity matter, but they appear to play different roles in explaining intention to quit and in predicting actual attempts to quit. Quitting identity is particularly important for intention to quit, whereas both quitting identity and smoking identity are important for actually trying to quit. Recent attempts to quit slightly attenuate the negative effect of smoking identity on attempts to quit.

CONCLUSION: A broader interpretation of self-identity in terms of both current and aspired behavior offers a better understanding of when people might change health-relevant behavior.

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