Self-control plays an important role in several health-related behaviors, including cigarette smoking. There is some evidence that individual differences in self-control are negatively associated with overall levels of nicotine dependence but, to our knowledge, finer-grained relationships between these constructs have not been explored. This is an important knowledge gap, as nicotine dependence is thought to be composed of separate dimensions that motivate smoking behavior in relatively unique ways. The goal of this preliminary study was to begin to characterize the potentially nuanced associations between self-control and facets of nicotine dependence using data pooled from two previous studies (n = 282). Specifically, we examined the correlation between self-control and the following dimensions of nicotine dependence: compulsion to smoke due to craving and desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms; preference for smoking over other reinforcers; reduced sensitivity to the effects of smoking; consistency of smoking patterns; and smoking behavior that is rigid and immutable. In line with prior research, self-control was negatively correlated with overall levels of dependence. As predicted, however, self-control was differentially associated with distinct dimensions of nicotine dependence. Specifically, self-control was negatively correlated with the compulsion to smoke due to craving and desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms but positively correlated with the consistency of smoking patterns. Given the potential conceptual and clinical importance of such effects, additional research investigating the role(s) that individual differences in self-control play in addiction to cigarettes would be useful.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health