Nicotine increases self-control


Smoking a cigarette might give you more self-control once your self control has been expended.

Two groups of nicotine dependent smokers were enrolled in the study. One control group and one test group. The people were asked to view and emotional film. One group was allowed to freely express their emotions while viewing; the other group was asked to suppress. Both groups were then allowed to smoke a cigarette before completing a frustrating task that required self-control.

“Our goal was to study whether tobacco smoking affects an individual's self-control resources. We hypothesized that participants who underwent a self-control depletion task would demonstrate less persistence on behavioral tasks requiring self-control as compared to those with self-control intact, when neither group was allowed to smoke. However, we also hypothesized that we would not find this performance decrement among participants who were permitted to smoke,” according to lead research Bryan W. Heckman, MA, graduate student at the Moffitt Tobacco Research and Intervention Program. “We found that smoking did have a restorative effect on an individual's depleted self-control resources. Moreover, smoking restored self-control, in part, by improving smokers' positive mood.”

It appears that self-control is like a muscle that can be fatigued. Once fatigued, it is difficult to engage in self-control again. This study demonstrated that the desire to restore depleted self-control may contribute to smokers' addiction to tobacco.

“Smoking is obviously a maladaptive way to restore self-control. Finding other ways to relax or enhance one's mood would be much healthier alternatives. In fact, even raising glucose level – perhaps by consuming a sugary drink – has been shown to restore self-control,” said co-author Thomas Brandon PhD, chair of the Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Abnormal Psychology


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