• Alex Jarvis

Quit Smoking based on your Personality


Did you know that one's life expectancy is reduced by nearly 10 years from smoking? Other effects on one's health include: shortness of breath, sore throat, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, bad breath, yellowing teeth and fingernails, and looking older than your age.


Quitting the habit is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. Although many succeed, many fall into relapse as well. There's relief for those who are struggling as there's a recent, better understanding on quitting cigarettes. It's the personality-informed smoking cessation concept.


First, learn your Big Five personality traits. You can take a reliable and free online test here. Knowing your traits will help you get the most of what follows. The premise is that a person who's higher on a particular trait may need to follow a different behavioral-shift strategy than someone who is lower on that same trait.


#1 High in conscientiousness. They're more likely to succeed with smoking-cessation plans that require gradually reducing the frequency (e.g. from a pack-a-day, they might start with 20 sticks/day and reduce by one cigar every two days: 20,20 then 19,19 then 18,18...2, 2 and 1, 1). They’re future-oriented and enjoy planning. So it's deeply satisfying for them to see a future goal, aim at it, and hit it. When they set a "quit date", it's highly likely they’ll stick to it.

Low in conscientiousness. They struggle more with impulse control and more "now-oriented". Having cigarettes around increases the possibility of those getting smoked. They may succeed better by practicing what's called "stimulus control" or removing the object they're avoiding from their environment. So, if there are no cigarettes in your house, they're less likely to indulge. People lower in conscientiousness might succeed more in quitting "cold turkey" than by gradual abstinence.



#2 High in Openness to experience. They're more open to introducing change into their lives so quitting smoking could be seen as an adventure. They welcome the opportunity to be a different version of themselves (to become new), but should be aware that as they discard an old behavior (e.g.smoking) they'd benefit from introducing something new as replacement. Start something like a new skill, hobby, or activity. The money used for cigarettes can now pay for language programs or art lessons.

Low in Openness to experience. Breaking out of a routine can feel destabilizing for them. With its numerous negative effects to health, smoking has been a constant in their lives –something reliably there for a long time. They can't be expected to just quit this 'companion', so it needs to be replaced with a healthier routine. For instance, if they took a smoke break outside every two hours when at work, they could take a walk-break instead. If they used to buy cigar each time they filled up with gas, they might instead buy a healthy drink or a small toy for their kids. A slower approach does it for low in openness to experience.


#3 High in extroversion. Smokers are commonly advised to inform their family/friends that they're quitting. Since extroverts spend more time around others, are more responsive to others' attitudes/behaviors, and have larger social support networks, more people hold them accountable when they're making a positive switch. Take advantage of this! But note, too, that they're also more exposed to negative peer influences. So, it would immensely help if they intentionally limit the time they spend with other smokers.

Low in extroversion. Introverts are less susceptible to peer influences. In fact, they may resist others' pleas to quit smoking as they may perceive these requests as assault to their cherished autonomy. Introverts need to figure out on their own why they need to stop smoking. They must quit on their own terms –and not because others want them to. Quitting may seem harder for them because they're going it alone, but when they succeed, they'll savor the accomplishment as theirs.


#4 High in neuroticism (or lower Emotional Stability). They're more vulnerable and reactive to stressful events, so they feel deeply the stress of quitting smoking than others who are giving up the habit. They're more prone to experiencing the common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal (e.g. agitation, irritability, restlessness). Hence, they benefit more from doctor-prescribed smoking-cessation medication.

Low in neuroticism. These are people who wonder why they didn't cut the habit sooner as they're likely to admit that it's a lot easier than they thought it was going to be. They're also less likely to smoke to begin with –which is why quitting for them, like most things in life, seems to be "no big deal". Associating smoking with nervousness or something stressed-out folks do to manage their emotions might make smoking seem self-destructive to them: "it's not the type of thing people like me do".


#5 High in agreeableness. They're cooperative, thoughtful, and tend to put others' needs before their own. They're probably the most responsive to reasons for quitting as related to the dangers of second-hand smoking. For instance, this person might be motivated to quit the habit when they have a newborn grandchild –in fear of harming the infant with second-hand smoke.

Low in agreeableness. They're most likely to do something just because somebody thought it couldn't be done. Looking at the dim quit-rates of smokers, immediately they'd see themselves as an exception: "I’ll succeed where so many failed!" they may say. If a friend of this person would make a wager, "I'll bet you $500 that you can't survive without tobacco for 4 months." A Low in Agreeableness may rise to the challenge –eager to prove their friend wrong.


The main idea of the personality-based smoking cessation is that: what works for you might not work for the other. From the Big Five personality traits, we gain useful insights into how people are different and vary in their responses. This concept may help you or someone you love to achieve positive change.


For help to quit your smoking or any other habit you don't like, come and see Jarvis Hypnotherapy.


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Content credits

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/acquainted-the-night/201912/how-quit-smoking-based-your-personality

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