Is smoking really a habit? Smoking in its most dangerous forms has tied itself with our deepest levels of subconscious, with our inner code. It slowly added itself to what makes us humans, to how we see ourselves, and into how we handle our sufferings. Because one cannot casually inject or sniff some drugs in social occasions or gatherings, the easy access to smoking has made it a social ritual. And it has been happening for a long, long time, since our ancestors started chewing tobacco leafs; it grew with us, like a meticulous malware installed to our system, and slowly altering its direction, showing its true powers when the body goes weary and old, while it used to be pleasant and comforting when it wasn’t. In this article, we’re going through the various traits of personality that play a major role in the initiation of smoking, adapting to it, and the chances of cessation that come with the traits. We’re also discussing the interchangeable connections between the roles and the progression of smoking over time, and the increase of decrease of its doses.
Smoking and Our Characteristics *
We’ve made smoking a cultural norm, like an Internet meme being made into a unit of culture. And while ‘memes’ are perceived as funny things on the Internet, they are at their core an idea. And how do ideas survive? They spread. The stronger an idea, a meme, a habit, is, the more widely it spreads, using brains as its vessels, controlling just a small context of the human thought, enough to change it and get the host to promote it. And in a similar technique smoking spreads, from generation to generation and from hand to hand.
In this study, it has been observed that smoking, or let’s say the abuse of addictive substances, is generally linked to some of human psychological characteristics, even distresses. Neuroticism, which is defined by the long-term tendency for one to experience negative emotions. The state of being neurotic; accompanied by consecutive states of guilt, envy, anger, and even anxiety, is directly linked to the number of cigarettes smoked by clinically diagnosed neurotics.
The study measured this over the course of ten years between wave I and wave II of almost the same number of subjects ten years earlier. And in regards to that, the aforementioned result of progression with nicotine use of the course of ten years due to the negative sensations of neuroticism has been identified. Since smoking is considered a method of emotion regulation, subjects smoke to cope with the terrible feelings they’re more likely to go through than others. And to make it worse, the withdrawal symptoms of brief smoking cessation cause their own type of stress, amplifying the chances of relapsing and the resumption of smoking. And this is no guess, it was empirically evident that neuroticism, and no other personality dimension, is the cause of smoking progression over the course of ten years of the study.
Conscientiousness: Caring for Oneself *
On the study of the “Big Five” as in the most influential factors or personality traits affecting one’s behavior, it was found that the trait of conscientiousness, the fancy word of caring for oneself and being a vigilante for it, actually helped in decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked daily, and raised the possibility of a successful smoking cessation. This can be somewhat linked to the antismoking campaigns and the creation of awareness about the negative behavior of it. However, this also indicates that it works on a certain number of personalities, with the presence of the mentioned trait.
This also indicates how a one-fits-all program for the cessation of smoking is ineffective, since it doesn’t put in consideration the variations between one person and the other, nor does it consider how distressed humans are to cope with the negative sensations, which consistently occur with certain personalities. But it’s worth mentioning that this positive trait can be cultivated, and that it serves as a possible predictor of behavior towards adopting negative and high-risk traits. And to support this finding, there’s been a remarkable 24-year study that found how a low level of conscientiousness in children resulted in more risky behaviors over the lifetime of the study.
Extraversion, Openness, and Agreeableness *
These are important aspects of the big five factors, and to speak of them, this study has measured the possible and predictable consequence of openness to new experiences. Resulting in a high percentage to be prone to initiating risky behaviors, especially the sex-related ones.
Also, there’s been a number of studies researching the possible link between extraversion and smoking, in relation to the recently coined term “Social Smoking.” Simply put, the term refers to the number of cigarettes lit when in public or with others, in comparison with the number of lit cigarettes when alone. While it’s being argued that this is the definition of it, and that it might simply mean smoking when smokers are present, as a form of conformity.
That has though been scientifically debunked, and social smoking was considered a recognizable pattern of smoking, which leads to tolerance and possible dependency. It has also been noticed that adolescents who scored high on extraversion levels had a higher risk of smoking, in comparison with those who scored lower on the same scale.
There’s been a second study on adolescents with interesting findings regarding personality factors. One of the findings was that female subjects were more likely to “try” as an indication of openness to experiences, once the topic of ‘legal drugs’ was opened in school. And the other finding was supported by an early-mentioned study, which is that extraversion resulted in higher chances of ‘trial’ of smoking, and there’s always the percentage that ‘likes it’ and, hence, adopts it.
In conclusion, our human characteristics play a major role in predicting our tendencies of behavior, and hence, the adoption of both positive and negative ones. And thenceforth, the proper cessation programs can be tailored to approach segments of different traits, in a more specialized form, and would thus be more likely to succeed.