Mating Mindset Blocks Men's Attempts to Quit Smoking

Addictive habits are hard to stop. But one study has found a trigger for that "need it now" attitude that stops quitters from quitting. Photos of attractive women women are enough to have men reaching for a cigarette.

Men who are trying to quit cigarettes may do best to avoid looking at attractive women. Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard highlights a new study that reports men's sexual desire may put them in a mindset that reduces their control over saying no to that cigarette.


The researchers argue that seeing a beautiful women may put some men into a “mating mindset” that sets their focus away from the future gratifications to instant ones. The issue of “temporal discounting” or “I want it now” frame of mind sets in and when the guy can't get the girl, he goes for the cigarette. The researcher write in their paper, published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior:

“We argue that male smokers may show increased temporal discounting, which is associated with yielding to the immediately satisfiable impulse to smoke.”

In order to test their argument, the researchers found 76 male smokers to participate in a study. Each one of the men had a mean age of 31 and had intentions of quitting or reducing their smoking habit. The men were asked to look at images of women and rate their level of appeal on a scale of one to seven. Some men were intentionally shown highly attractive or less-attractive female faces. The men were then given a reaction time test to measure their mating mindset after seeing the photos of women.

The men were asked to fill out a questionnaire that was unrelated to the study. They were then told it would be around thirty minutes to finish the process, so participants were free to smoke if they wished.The researchers found:

“Participants who had viewed attractive opposite-sex faces smoked more cigarettes than those who viewed less-attractive faces.”

It's helpful to understand potential triggers that may keep you from attaining your goal. The ability to recognize what initiates your desire to smoke can only help you work through or avoid situations where you're tempted to take a drag. On the flip side, researchers suggest you could also provide yourself with cues that promote a “connection with one’s future self” to help encourage you towards your goal to quit.

Read more at Pacific Standard

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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