Reflexive Reaction to Feelings Predicts Failed Smoking Cessation Better Than Does Lack of General Self-Control

Monica Webb Hooper, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Many treatment-seeking smokers have difficulty quitting and maintaining abstinence. Trait impulsivity versus self-control is relevant to this problem. However, impulsivity is a multifaceted construct, and different measures emphasize different parts of it. This study compared 2 self-report measures of self-control versus impulsiveness as predictors of smoking cessation. One measure taps a very specific tendency to respond impulsively when experiencing emotions. The other taps overall self-control without reference to emotional states. Method: Adult smokers (N = 116) recruited from the community participated in a group-based smoking cessation intervention. The sample was racially/ethnically diverse, mostly male, middle aged, single, low income, and moderately nicotine dependent. Self-reports on scales titled Reflexive reaction to feelings and Self-control were completed at entry. Seven-day point prevalence abstinence (ppa) was assessed at end-of-therapy (EOT) and at 3-and 6-month follow-ups. A generalized estimating equation (GEE) tested overall relationships of the self-report scales with 7-day ppa across the assessments. Results: Bivariate analyses revealed inverse associations between Reflexive reaction to feelings and 7-day ppa; a positive association emerged between Self-control and 7-day ppa only at EOT. A GEE found that elevated scores on Reflexive reaction to feelings predicted failure in smoking cessation across the study period (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.69 [0.49-0.96], p =.03) and that Self-control scores did not do so significantly (AOR = 1.26 [0.80-1.99], p =.32). Conclusions: Results add to a literature suggesting the importance of emotion-related impulsivity to behavioral problems by showing its relevance to smoking cessation in treatment-seekers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-618
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • emotion-related impulsivity
  • impulsivity
  • self-control
  • smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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