What are the psychological dynamics when a couple tries to change a habit together?

Posted on February 19, 2018

Changing an unhealthy habit depends a lot on your belief that you can do it, something psychologists call self-efficacy. Considering the habit of smoking, this means that the greater the belief of the individual that he/she will be able to quit, the greater the likelihood their smoking reduces and that they would eventually quit.

Additionally, health psychologists have discovered that one of the most important inspirations is seeing others successfully make the changes that you desire. Lisa Warner from the Freie Universität Berlin and her colleagues therefore researched on the impact on smokers of having a partner whose own attempt to quit is going well.

Warner’s team asked 85 couples, made up of partners who had chosen to quit together, to keep a diary of their progress. At the end of each day, every participant recorded whether they had smoked any cigarettes that day (to indicate their mastery) and their feelings of self-efficacy regarding the challenge of quitting, rating their agreement with items such as “I am confident that I can refrain from smoking tomorrow even if it is difficult”.

The day-by-day analysis showed that a participant’s self-efficacy was more likely to go up when their partner had shown increases in their own self-efficacy the day before. It was likewise for mastery. Intriguingly, however, partner mastery didn’t seem to affect a participant’s next-day self-efficacy, as the researchers expected initially. The findings, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, are nonetheless still important news for couples trying to make healthy changes together.

Category(s):Smoking Cessation

Source material from Research Digest

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