Think abstractly, smoke less: A brief construal-level intervention can promote self-control, leading to reduced cigarette consumption among current smokers

  • Chiou W
  • Wu W
  • Chang M
  • 88


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 19


    Citations of this article.


AIMS: Inadequate self-control has been linked to behavioural and impulse-control problems such as overeating, alcohol and drug abuse and smoking. Construal-level theory (CLT) suggests that a high-level construal (highlighting central goals associated with an event), relative to a low-level construal (highlighting means and resources), promotes self-control. Inspired by CLT, we examined whether smokers primed with a high-level (versus low-level) construal mind-set would show reductions in smoking that might be mediated by improved self-control.

DESIGN: A single-factor (construal level: high, low, control) between-subjects design was employed. We used a widely employed why/how paradigm to induce high/low construal levels, whereby participants were asked to respond to questions about 'why' or 'how' they would maintain good physical health.

SETTING: Laboratory at Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan.

PARTICIPANTS: A community sample consisting of 102 daily smokers participated in this experiment.

MEASUREMENTS: The Stroop task measuring self-control was implemented after the construal-level manipulation. The dependent measure was actual cigarette consumption during an ostensible survey.

FINDINGS: Participants in a high-level construal mind-set smoked fewer cigarettes [mean = 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.9, 1.7] than those in a low-level construal mind-set (mean = 2.6, 95% CI: 2.2, 3.0; P < 0.01). A bootstrapping analysis supported for the role of self-control (B = -1.14, 95% CI: -1.65, -0.74, P < 0.01) as a mechanism underlying this effect.

CONCLUSIONS: Smokers primed with a high-level construal mind-set (i.e. cognitive abstraction) may induce greater self-control that leads to reduced cigarette consumption. Thus, reminding smokers to think abstractly about health may be an effective strategy that could help them to smoke fewer cigarettes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Construal levels
  • Current smokers
  • Ego depletion
  • Self-control
  • Smoking reduction
  • Stroop

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text


Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free