Talking about smoking-risks within your network could boost your intention to quit

If you have been trying to give up on smoking but are failing relentlessly, discussing the risk of smoking among your network could boost your intent.
It's certainly not easy to quit smoking, but now you could boost your intent further. GIF courtesy: GIPHY
ANI Updated: 7 Feb 2020, 12:05 pm IST
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Smoking is that lifestyle habit, which gets more and more difficult to quit if you have been habitual to it. However, if your intent to quit is strong enough, this may not be that difficult a task. And discussing the smoking-risks with your network could be a trigger in boosting your intent to quit. Don’t believe us? Well, a study has proved it.

According to a recent study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, awareness among smokers and their assessment of smoking-risks become more accurate by discussing their ideas with other people.

The researchers created an online network in which 1,600 participants, including both smokers and non-smokers, were asked to answer questions about the health risks associated with smoking.

The study conducted by doctoral candidate Douglas Guilbeault and Professor Damon Centola found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to the question, how many people will die from tobacco use in developed countries in 2030? And other questions about smoking’s health effects.

In the first round of the study, all participants answered the questions alone. For the second and third rounds, participants in the control group were allowed to change their answers but were still working alone. Their answers did not become any more accurate.

Meanwhile, two networked groups of participants were allowed to view the answers of others and use that information to revise their guesses for the second and third rounds.

It’s time to discuss smoking-risks with your peers.

One group simply saw the answers of anonymous participants, while the other group was able to see whether the guesses were coming from smokers or non-smokers.

As per the findings of the study, in both networked groups where participants shared answers, everyone’s responses to the question improved dramatically. Just by talking in a social network, participants came away with a much better understanding of their own smoking risks, which is a key indicator of a smoker’s intention to quit.

According to Centola, “We talk a lot today about misinformation, but another problem is a misunderstanding, even if the information being disseminated is factual, people can nevertheless misunderstand or misinterpret that information.”

“At the individual level, people often aren’t incentivized to change their beliefs,” Guilbeault says, “but if you show them that other people think differently, it can encourage belief change under the right conditions.”

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“Most people think that when someone encounters an out-group member, they are more likely to become entrenched in their position,” Centola says, “but in this study with smokers and non-smokers, we found that they actually become more receptive to one another’s points of view and developed mutual respect for each other.”

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