Article

The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts

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  • University of Scranton
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Abstract

This study prospectively tracked the self-change attempts of 200 New Year's resolvers over a 2-year period in order to more fully understand the coping determinants of maintenance and the natural history of lapses and relapses. Seventy-seven percent maintained their pledges for 1 week but only 19% for 2 years. Successful resolvers reported employing significantly more stimulus control, reinforcement, and willpower than the unsuccessful over the 2 years; social support and interpersonal strategies failed to predict success before 6 months but did so thereafter. Counterconditioning and fading were retrospectively nominated as the most efficacious coping strategies; paucity of willpower and failure of stimulus control were reported as the most hindering to maintenance. Fifty-three percent of the successful group experienced at least one slip, and the mean number of slips over the 2-year interval was 14. Slips were typically precipitated by a lack of personal control, excessive stress, and negative emotion.

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... weight loss, smoking cessation, exercise, etc.). They found that only 77% of resolvers kept their resolutions continuously for one week, 55% for 1 month, and only 19% at a two-year follow-up (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Readiness to change and self-efficacy were strong predictors of sticking to the resolution at 1 week and 1 month follow-up. ...
... Note that social word use in the first couple blog entries was highly correlated with receiving more comments, from a greater number of commenters, and lengthier comments (see Appendix R). Previous research on New Year's resolutions related to behavioral change found no effects of social support or behavioral skills on sticking to a resolution ( 1989; Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Since the current investigation found large effects for social support, perhaps people who blog about dieting are more likely to welcome a public audience or at least receive support from other dieters, and therefore social support effects for change may have been stronger here than in reports of selfchange offline. ...
... Previous longitudinal research on people who had made a New Year's resolution about a behavioral change showed that over a fifth had quit their resolutions by January 7 th ( Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Indeed, an overwhelming proportion of dieters quit blogging about weight loss within the first few entries of blogging. ...
Article
An increasing number of people are turning to online blogging communities devoted to self-change for smoking, shopping, and other behaviors. To understand processes underlying effective self-change, the current project tracked the language and social dynamics of a dieting blog community using computerized text analysis. Three research questions were asked: What predicts weight loss in blogs? What changes in blogging predict weight loss? Can we predict dropping out or successful weight loss based on the first two entries? A community of blogs devoted to weight loss was examined (n = 2530). Most bloggers were female, and on average, around 30 years old, approximately 200 pounds, with a goal weight of about 140 pounds. A sample of blogs by females that had blogged at least 15 entries within the first 15 weeks of blogging resulted in a total of 186 blogs, representing over 9,200 entries for analysis. Computerized text analysis was used to examine language for rates of self-focus, emotionality, cognitive processing, keeping food diaries, and social support. Rates of blogging were assessed by word counts, number of active weeks, and mean entries per week. Social support was assessed through the use of social words, the size of the social network, along with the positivity and negativity of the comments. The discrepancy between start and goal weight was also assessed. The results suggested that having larger weight loss goals and blogging about personal events was a more effective weight loss strategy than keeping an online food intake diary. The degree to which bloggers were socially integrated with the blog community was found to be a potent predictor of weight loss. Online components of behavioral treatment programs could encourage dieters to browse and comment on other dieters’ progress, and to share personal narratives rather than simply focusing on the benefits of food intake diaries, nutrition, and exercise. The current project points to the power of computerized text analytic tools to address important theoretical and practical social psychological issues that are evolving on the internet. Specifically, language analysis methods can identify which dimensions of blogging communities can help or hinder self-change processes. Psychology
... Gritz et al. [9] also investigated effects of more frequent monitoring but identified none. Norcross and Vangarelli [10] followed 200 New Year's resolvers. Resolutions among participants concerned not only weight loss and smoking cessation, but also relationship improvement, and more. ...
... One week into the new year, 77% of participants had maintained their resolutions; the number decreased to 55% after one month, 43% after three months, 40% after six months, and 19% at the two-year follow-up. Norcross and Vangarelli [10] found that participants who reported a greater use of stimulus control, greater willpower, and the more consistent use of self-reward achieved greater success rates. In another paper from the same project, Norcross, Ratzin, and Payne [11] reported that readiness to change was related to positive outcomes. ...
... In most of the previous studies, participants' New Year's resolutions were categorized based on their topics [7,10,12,13]. All studies found similar results regarding the most common categories of resolutions, with physical health, interpersonal relationships, personal growth, and academic results being recurring topics. ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the popularity of New Year’s resolutions, current knowledge about them is limited. We investigated what resolutions people make when they are free to formulate them, whether different resolutions reach differing success rates, and whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of a resolution’s success by administering information and exercises on effective goal setting. Participants (N = 1066) from the general public were randomized into three groups: active control, some support, and extended support. The most popular resolutions regarded physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. At a one-year follow-up, 55% of responders considered themselves successful in sustaining their resolutions. Participants with approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (58.9% vs. 47.1%). The group that received some support was exclusively and significantly more successful compared to the other two. This study reveals that New Year’s resolutions can have lasting effects, even at a one-year follow-up.
... With smoking, for example, successful self-changers make an average of from three to four action attempts before they become long-term maintainers (Schachter, 1982). Many New Year's resolvers report five or more years of consecutive pledges before maintaining the behavioral goal for at least six months (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Relapse and recycling through the stages occur quite frequently as individuals attempt to modify or cease addictive behaviors. ...
... They begin to consider plans for their next action attempt while trying to learn from their recent efforts. To take another example, fully 60% of unsuccessful New Year's resolvers make the same pledge the next year (Norcross, Ratzin, & Payne, 1989;Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). The spiral model suggests that most relapsers do not revolve endlessly in circles and that they do not regress all the way back to where they began. ...
Article
How people intentionally change addictive behaviors with and without treatment is not well understood by behavioral scientists. This article summarizes research on self-initiated and professionally facilitated change of addictive behaviors using the key transtheoretical constructs of stages and processes of change. Modification of addictive behaviors involves progression through five stages—pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance—and individuals typically recycle through these stages several times before termination of the addiction. Multiple studies provide strong support for these stages as well as for a finite and common set of change processes used to progress through the stages. Research to date supports a transtheoretical model of change that systematically integrates the stages with processes of change from diverse theories of psychotherapy.
... Resolutions provide the self-initiated opportunity to change behaviors in the New Year. Success rates range from 55 percent within one month to 40 percent within six months (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Thus, considerable amounts of New ...
... Further, external monitoring showed no beneficial effects on the realization of New Year's resolutions.Marlatt and Kaplan (1972) pointed out that self-control plays an important role when it comes to self-initiated behavior change. The time frame ofMarlatt and Kaplan's (1972) study was 15 weeks.A longer period of time for the realization of New Year's resolutions has been investigated byNorcross and Vangarelli (1989) using a time lag of two years. The authors found that 66 percent of study participants reported successful realization of New Year's resolutions after two weeks. ...
... With smoking, for example, successful self-changers make an average of from three to four action attempts before they become long-term maintainers (Schachter, 1982). Many New Year's resolvers report five or more years of consecutive pledges before maintaining the behavioral goal for at least six months (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). Relapse and recycling through the stages occur quite frequently as individuals attempt to modify or cease addictive behaviors. ...
... They begin to consider plans for their next action attempt while trying to learn from their recent efforts. To take another example, fully 60% of unsuccessful New Year's resolvers make the same pledge the next year (Norcross, Ratzin, & Payne, 1989; Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). The spiral model suggests that most relapsers do not revolve endlessly in circles and that they do not regress all the way back to where they began. ...
Article
How people intentionally change addictive behaviors with and without treatment is not well understood by behavioral scientists. This article summarizes research on self-initiated and professionally facilitated change of addictive behaviors using the key trans-theoretical constructs of stages and processes of change. Modification of addictive behaviors involves progression through five stages--pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance--and individuals typically recycle through these stages several times before termination of the addiction. Multiple studies provide strong support for these stages as well as for a finite and common set of change processes used to progress through the stages. Research to date supports a trans-theoretical model of change that systematically integrates the stages with processes of change from diverse theories of psychotherapy.
... For example, individuals in the EITC-qualifying range may be more likely to be working in the new year or more likely to maintain health-promoting behaviours for several months following new-year resolutions. 37 Our analysis could not speak to the mechanisms that link EITC income to positive or negative health-related outcomes. It is reasonable to suspect that such mechanisms are related to a combination of material factors, consumption patterns and psychological mechanisms. ...
Article
Background: There are conflicting findings regarding long- and short-term effects of income on health. Whereas higher average income is associated with better health, there is evidence that health behaviours worsen in the short-term following income receipt.Prior studies revealing such negative short-term effects of income receipt focus on specific subpopulations and examine a limited set of health outcomes. Methods: The United States Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is an income supplement tied to work, and is the largest poverty reduction programme in the USA. We utilize the fact that EITC recipients typically receive large cash transfers in the months of February,March and April, in order to examine associated changes in health outcomes that can fluctuate on a monthly basis. We examine associations with 30 outcomes in the categories of diet, food security, health behaviours, cardiovascular biomarkers, metabolic biomarkers and infection and immunity among 6925 individuals from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey. Our research design approximates a natural experiment,since whether individuals were sampled during treatment or non-treatment months is independent of social, demographic and health characteristics that do not vary with time. Results: There are both beneficial and detrimental short-term impacts of income receipt.Although there are detrimental impacts on metabolic factors among women, most other impacts are beneficial, including those for food security, smoking and trying to lose weight. Conclusions: The short-term impacts of EITC income receipt are not universally health promoting, but on balance there are more health benefits than detriments.
... This contrasts with the signal prior to this, where the smoothed anger signal is relatively low. It is also worth noting that the lowest valence is often found on New Year's day each year, a time traditionally used to look back into the past and make resolutions for the future [173]. Indeed, this can be seen more generally for other public holidays such as Christmas and Easter, which are always below average for the level of anger displayed. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The abundance of data and the ability to process it at a massive scale has transformed many areas of research in the natural sciences. These data-driven methods have recently begun to be adopted in other fields of research which traditionally have not relied on computational approaches, such as the social sciences and humanities. As we continue forward, we will likely see an increase in the spread of data-driven approaches in these fields as more and more data is “born digital”, coupled with mass digitalisation projects that aim to digitise the mountains of paper archives that still exist. In this thesis, we look at extracting, analysing and delving into data from massive textual corpora, concentrating on macroscopic trends and characteristics that can only be found when transitioning from traditional social science methods involving manual inspection known as ‘coding’ to scalable, data-driven computational methods. A distributed architecture for large-scale text analysis was collaboratively developed during the project, serving as the infrastructure for collecting, storing and analysing data. Using this infrastructure, this thesis not only explores methods for extracting information in a scalable way but also demonstrates the types of studies that can be achieved by adopting data-driven approaches. These studies and their findings include differences in writing style across topics and news outlets; longitudinal and diurnal patterns of mood change in population-scale samples of UK social media users; and general tools and methods that can be used to interrogate and explore massive textual corpora in an interactive way. We conclude that data-driven methods for the analysis of large-scale textual corpora have now reached a point where the extraction of macroscopic trends and patterns can enable meaningful information about the real-world to be discovered.
... Seasonal variations across a number of smoking and quitting behaviors have been documented. Most smokers express a desire to quit [1] and many make a quit attempt around the start of the New Year [2][3][4][5][6]. Reports have shown that sales of cigarettes are at their lowest during January and February [7,8] and sales of nicotine replacement therapies are at their highest January through March [9]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Seasonal variations in smoking and quitting behaviors have been documented, with many smokers seeking cessation assistance around the start of the New Year. What remains unknown is whether smokers who are recruited to cessation treatment trials during the New Year are as motivated to quit, or as likely to enroll in a research trial, adhere to a research protocol, and benefit from a cessation intervention compared to those who are recruited during other times of the year. Objective The objective of this study was to determine whether smokers recruited during the New Year period differ on measures of motivation and desire to quit, recruitment and retention rates, website utilization rates, and short-term cessation outcomes compared to smokers recruited at other times. Methods Participants were current smokers who had registered on a free Web-based cessation program (BecomeAnEX.org) and were invited to participate in a clinical trial. The New Year period was defined according to a clear peak and drop in the proportion of visitors who registered on the site, spanning a 15-day period from December 26, 2012 to January 9, 2013. Two other 15-day recruitment periods during summer (July 18, 2012 to August 1, 2012) and fall (November 7, 2012 to November 21, 2012) were selected for comparison. Data were examined from 3 sources: (1) a Web-based clinical trials management system that automated the recruitment and enrollment process, (2) self-report assessments at baseline and 3 months postrandomization, and (3) online tracking software that recorded website utilization during the first 3 months of the trial. ResultsVisitors to BecomeAnEX during the New Year period were more likely to register on the site than smokers who visited during summer or fall (conversion rates: 7.4%, 4.6%, 4.9%, respectively; P
... A more academic and mundane term might be " social support " effects. A variety of studies have shown that social support is related to significant improvement in fulfilling one's intentions (Norcross, Ratzin, & Payne 1989; Norcross & Vangarelli 1988) and motivation (Caplan, Robinson, French, Caldwell, and Shinn 1976, 3; Harackiewicz 1979). Empirical investigations also support the the claim that the " need to belong " is significantly related to motivation (Baumeister 1995). ...
Conference Paper
Armchair and experimental investigations suggest that will-power is related to many variables. For example, will-power can vary with mood, metabolism, and neural function — to name a few. Given that will-power is so multi-faceted, it might be unclear how to make sense of the nature of will-power. In this paper, I describe the nature of will-power as the structure and dynamics of a network. Existing investigations have revealed fragments of this will-power network. And further investigation can reveal addition features of the network. Unlike some descriptions of nature of will-power, the network theory can not only make sense of armchair investigations of will-power, it can unify and make sense of experimental approaches to will-power. These and other reasons are offered in defense of the claim that the network theory of will-power can outshine alternative theories.
... Most people who perceive their smoking as harmful and want to quit have a difficult time maintaining gains towards this end (see Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norocross, 1993). For example, Norcross and Vangarelli (1989) showed that people who make a New Year's resolution to quit smoking report making 5 or more years of consecutive pledges before they are ready to cease smoking. Even when a smoker expresses some readiness to quit, relapse is the rule rather than the exception (Prochaska et al., 1993). ...
Article
Contrary to conventional wisdom and extant empirical work, forgiving the self may have deleterious consequences, especially if self-forgiveness is granted for chronic unhealthy behaviours such as smoking. Among 181 smokers, it was predicted and found that increased self-forgiveness for smoking was associated with a decreased likelihood of advancing through the stages of behavioural change towards action. Moreover, forgiving the self, mediated the relationship between movements from the pre-contemplation to contemplation stage of change and perceived smoking cons as well as experiential processes. An expanded understanding of the benefits and costs of self-forgiveness is discussed.
... A meta-analysis of 47 experimental studies found that a medium-to-large-sized change in intentions had a smallto-medium-sized effect on subsequent behavior (Webb & Sheeran, 2006). Evidence indicates that people who intend to exercise do not necessarily do so (Rhodes & de Bruijn, 2013), that most people want to be happier than they are (Oishi, Diener, & Lucas, 2007), and that resolutions as it is to form them in the first place (Marlatt & Kaplan, 1972; Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988). In short, forming a goal intention is not, on its own, sufficient to ensure goal attainment (for reviews, see Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006; Sheeran, Milne, Webb, & Gollwitzer, 2005; Sheeran & Webb, 2011; Webb, 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
Control theory and other frameworks for understanding self-regulation suggest that monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that intervenes between setting and attaining a goal, and helps to ensure that goals are translated into action. However, the impact of progress monitoring interventions on rates of behavioral performance and goal attainment has yet to be quantified. A systematic literature search identified 138 studies (N �= 19,951) that randomly allocated participants to an intervention designed to promote monitoring of goal progress versus a control condition. All studies reported the effects of the treatment on (a) the frequency of progress monitoring and (b) subsequent goal attainment. A random effects model revealed that, on average, interventions were successful at increasing the frequency of monitoring goal progress (d� �= 1.98, 95% CI [1.71, 2.24]) and promoted goal attainment (d� �= 0.40, 95% CI [0.32, 0.48]). Furthermore, changes in the frequency of progress monitoring mediated the effect of the interventions on goal attainment. Moderation tests revealed that progress monitoring had larger effects on goal attainment when the outcomes were reported or made public, and when the information was physically recorded. Taken together, the findings suggest that monitoring goal progress is an effective self-regulation strategy, and that interventions that increase the frequency of progress monitoring are likely to promote behavior change.
... A meta-analysis of 47 experimental studies found that a medium-tolarge-sized change in intentions had a small-to-medium-sized effect on subsequent behavior (Webb & Sheeran, 2006). Evidence indicates that people who intend to exercise do not necessarily do so (Rhodes & de Bruijn, 2013), that most people want to be happier than they are (Oishi, Diener, & Lucas, 2007), and that it has become almost as traditional to fail to achieve New Year's resolutions as it is to form them in the first place (Marlatt & Kaplan, 1972;Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988). In short, forming a goal intention is not, on its own, sufficient to ensure goal attainment (for reviews, see Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006;Sheeran, Milne, Webb, & Gollwitzer, 2005;Sheeran & Webb, 2011;Webb, 2006). ...
... For example, in one experiment, people recruited into a weight loss intervention with friends lost more weight at a 4-and 10-month follow-up than people recruited individually (Wing & Jeff rey, 1999). Further, individuals who have social support are more likely to adhere to medical treatment (DiMatteo, 2004) and to maintain New Year's resolutions even two years aft er they are made (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). ...
... Thus, the treatment effects are not larger for feedback on household water use than on aggregated electricity consumption. A potential explanation for the moderate effect size of those reports might be that by providing feedback on past resource consumption, they only enable consumers to change future behavior; yet in many cases, good resolutions fall prey to procrastination and relapse (Norcross and Vangarelli 1988). ...
Article
Full-text available
Inattention and imperfect information bias behavior toward the salient and immediately visible. This distortion creates costs for individuals, the organizations in which they work, and society at large. We show that an effective way to overcome this bias is by making the implications of one's behavior salient in real time, while individuals can directly adapt. In a large-scale field experiment, we gave participants real-time feedback on the resource consumption of a daily, energy-intensive activity (showering). We find that real-time feedback reduced resource consumption for the target behavior by 22%. At the household level, this led to much larger conservation gains in absolute terms than conventional policy interventions that provide aggregate feedback on resource use. High baseline users displayed a larger conservation effect, in line with the notion that real-time feedback helps eliminate " slack " in resource use. The approach is cost effective, is technically applicable to the vast majority of households, and generated savings of 1.2 kWh per day and household, which exceeds the average energy use for lighting. The intervention also shows how digitalization in our everyday lives makes information available that can help individuals overcome salience bias and act more in line with their preferences.
... Rovnako dôležitým bol aj časový aspekt, resp. interval, počas ktorého bolo predsavzatie dodržané (Norcross, Vangarelli, 1989). Na základe výsledkov, ktoré získali od respondentov prostredníctvom telefonických rozhovorov zistili, že až dve tretiny respondentov sa snažia zbaviť zlozvyku fajčenia a nadváhy. ...
Conference Paper
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Resistance in compliance with resolutions brings some diversification to the self-control research in the area of goal attainment. It seems to be a phenomenon combining issues of high self-control, willpower and resistance to temptations. We consider the empirical confirmation of the relationship between resistance in compliance with resolutions and self-control construct (Lovaš, Čopková, 2012) as the proof explaining process aspects of mechanism of resistance in compliance with resolutions. The challenge for the next research was to identify those stable personality characteristics reflecting the ability of resisting to temptation, respectively complying with the resolutions, what we tried to find out by using a personality questionnaire NEO-FFI (Ruisel, Halama, 2007) and the method designed specifically for the purpose of capturing the phenomenon of resistance in compliance with resolutions. The result findings are presented in the paper
... Although people frequently use personal resolutions to try to change their behavior, these efforts are often ineffective. For example, while Martatt and Kaplan (1972) found that 75% of college students had managed to keep their New Year's resolutions after 15 weeks, later studies revealed that only 40% of adults had kept their resolutions after 6 months and only 19% had kept them after 2 years (Norcross and Vangarelli, 1989). Similarly, a study by Wiseman (n.d.) of over 3,000 volunteers found that only 12% had kept their New Year's resolutions after a year, despite 52% having been confident they would succeed. ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the relative consensus in the self-management literature that personal resolutions are not an effective stand-alone tactic for self-control, some individuals seem capable of using them to exert a remarkable level of control over their behavior. One such individual was Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Indian statesman. Gandhi often used personal resolutions—or “vows”—to commit himself to a range of challenging behaviors, such as extreme diets, sexual abstinence, and fasting. Similarly, Prince Pückler-Muskau, a celebrated 19th-Century adventurer, landscape designer and travel author, described using personal resolutions to unfailingly accomplish numerous tasks in his everyday life. In this article, we examine the historical writings of Gandhi and Pückler-Muskau concerning their use of resolutions. We describe three defining characteristics of their resolutions, which we will refer to as unbreakable resolutions, and outline Gandhi’s advice for making and keeping such resolutions. Our analysis suggests that the effectiveness of unbreakable resolutions may be primarily due to the temporally extended contingencies of reinforcement associated with their use, and can be usefully interpreted from the perspective of delay-discounting and say-do correspondence models of self-control. The implications of this examination for understanding the concept of willpower and for enhancing modern research into self-control training are also discussed. Based on this analysis, we additionally offer a tentative set of guidelines on how to make and keep unbreakable resolutions.
... A survey of 1000 US adults in November 2017 determined that 45% of Americans share a common New Year's resolution of weight loss and getting in shape [30]. However, tracking the sustainability of New Year's resolutions over a 2-year period showed that 77% maintained their pledges for 1 week and only 19% for 2 years [31]. Furthermore, public health strategies to tackle weight loss and information sharing on statistics related to obesity seem to correlate with certain peaks in the relative interest scores of weight loss and abdominal obesity [32,33]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Obesity is a major public health challenge and recent literature sheds light on the concept of "normalization" of obesity. Objective: We aimed to study the worldwide pattern of web based information seeking by public on obesity and related terms and topics using Google Trends. Methods: We compared the relative frequency of search terms and topics related to Obesity between 2004 and 2019 on Google Trends. The mean relative interest score (RIS) was compared between a 4-year period quartiles. Results: The mean RIS of the search term "Obesity" consistently decreased with time in all four quartiles (2004-2019), whereas the RIS of the search topics "Weight loss" and "Abdominal Obesity" increased. The topic "Weight loss" was popular during the month of January and its median RIS for January as compared to other months was higher for the entire study period (p<0.001). The RIS for the search term "Obese" decreased over time, whereas "Body positivity" and "Self-Love" increased after 2013. Conclusions: Despite increase in prevalence of obesity worldwide, its popularity on internet diminishes. The reason for peaks in months should be explored and may be applied to awareness campaigns for better effectiveness. These patterns suggest normalization of obesity in the society with rise of public curiosity towards image-related obesity rather than its medical implications and harm. Clinicaltrial:
... It is noteworthy that university students may experience gratitude based on the warmth and cooperation of their loved ones and friends to achieve their goals as well as the kindness, dedication, and sage counsel of their teachers/mentors to perform well in their studies and excel in life. Research also suggests that social support (as a valuable resource) may strengthen people's dedication and commitment towards weight loss and physical fitness (Wing and Jeffery 1999) as well as enable them to become more supportive and thoughtful (Nelson et al. 2015) and follow through on their resolutions (Norcross and Vangarelli 1989), such as practicing positive thinking, adopting a healthy life style, being less judgmental, or making prudent decisions. The second part of the mediation results indicated that the three dimensions of wellness were related to life satisfaction. ...
Article
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This study analyzed the mediating effect of the body–mind–spirit dimensions of wellness between dispositional gratitude and life satisfaction among bachelor’s students enrolled at a midsized private university in Islamabad. Rooted in the Broaden-and-Build theory, the study explains how the positive emotion of gratitude may develop personal resources in terms of wellness behaviors or resources, which subsequently foster life satisfaction. The study sample of 779 students was divided into subsample 1 (n = 389) and subsample 2 (n = 390) through a randomizer to obtain solid results. As predicted, the results from a parallel mediation analysis using Model 4 of the PROCESS macro indicated that the body, mind, and spirit dimensions of wellness mediated the dispositional gratitude → life satisfaction link in the two subsamples. The implications of the results for interventions and future research are discussed.
... 2 People who succeed in maintaining their resolutions beyond 12 days do so because of positive differences in: stimulus control (whether snacks are available to stare back at you when you open the cupboard); willpower (the effort available to expend on resisting an impulse); and reinforcement (positive reminders of the aims guiding the resolution). 3 In health care, we often engage in strategies to promote behaviour change in our patients, colleagues and even ourselves. Change in health behaviour is notoriously challenging. ...
... Feelings of connectedness may reinforce an individual's desire to be a good person and reach his full potential in other domains of his life. Social support-an important source of connectedness-is important to one's success in a variety of selfimprovement endeavors, including weight loss ( Wing & Jeffery, 1999), maintenance of New Year's resolutions ( Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989), adherence to medical treatment ( DiMatteo, 2004), and being a kinder person ( Nelson et al., 2015). Feeling close and supported by other people may allow an individual to feel safe enough to take the chance of embarking on a selfimprovement journey. ...
Article
Full-text available
Positive emotions are highly valued and frequently sought. Beyond just being pleasant, however, positive emotions may also lead to long-term benefits in important domains, including work, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. Research thus far has focused on the broader functions of positive emotions. According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions expand people's thought-action repertoires and allow them to build psychological, intellectual, and social resources. New evidence suggests that positive emotions - particularly gratitude - may also play a role in motivating individuals to engage in positive behaviors leading to self-improvement. We propose and offer supportive evidence that expressing gratitude leads people to muster effort to improve themselves via increases in connectedness, elevation, humility, and specific negative states including indebtedness.
... Indeed, to the extent that positive emotions broaden people's perspectives and stimulate them to build intellectual, social, and physical resources [69,70], states like gratitude and elevation that draw attention to the goodness of others should be particularly motivating, as they prompt one to do good deeds or strive to become a better person [40]. Similarly, connectedness-another proximal outcome of gratitude inductions-could also serve as an important catalyst of improving oneself and one's relationships [71,72]. ...
Article
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Although a great deal of research has tested the longitudinal effects of regularly practicing gratitude, much less attention has been paid to the emotional landscape directly following engagement in gratitude exercises. In three studies, we explored the array of discrete emotions people experience after being prompted to express or recall gratitude. In Studies 1 and 2, two different gratitude exercises produced not only greater feelings of gratitude relative to two positive emotion control conditions (i.e., recalling relief), but also higher levels of other socially relevant states like elevation, connectedness, and indebtedness. In a third study, conducted in both the U.S. and S. Korea, we compared a gratitude exercise to another positive emotion elicitation (i.e., recalling a kind act) and to a neutral task, and again found that the gratitude exercise prompted greater gratitude, elevation, indebtedness, and guilt, but no more embarrassment or shame, than the two comparison conditions. Additionally, in all three studies, emodiversity and cluster analyses revealed that gratitude exercises led to the simultaneous experience of both pleasant and unpleasant socially-relevant states. In sum, although it may seem obvious that gratitude exercises would evoke grateful, positive states, a meta-analysis of our three studies revealed that gratitude exercises actually elicit a mixed emotional experience—one that simultaneously leads individuals to feel uplifted and indebted. © 2017 Layous et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
... One limitation of our experiments is that we did not collect any behavioral data to follow up on the intentions we recorded. Although intentions do tend to be a good predictor of later behavior, other research indicates that intentions become a poorer predictor over longer periods of time (Albarracín et al., 2001;Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). One potential solution to this problem when recommenders present information could be to emphasize short-term benefits in addition to longer term ones. ...
Article
Two experiments investigated the effects of the number of health recommendations (e.g., quit smoking; relax for a day) contained in a health-promotion message on recommendation recall and intentions to enact the recommendations. We hypothesized that if recommendations are stored individually, a higher number of presented recommendations will increase the number of recalled recommendations. As the number of recommendations increases, however, recipients are likely to summarize more recommendations as part of a single, more general theme (or header), resulting in a decrease in the proportion of recalled recommendations. Two experiments (N = 193 and N = 266) found that the total number of recalled recommendations increased and the proportion of recalled recommendations decreased with the number of presented recommendations. Experiment 2 replicated the findings with the number and the proportion of intended behaviors. The implications of these findings for future behavioral health interventions are discussed.
... Most people taking action to modify dysfunctional behaviors do not successfully maintain their gains on their first attempt. New Year's resolvers, for example, report five or more years of consecutive pledges before maintaining their behavioral goal for at least six months (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1989). As a result, behavior change scholars propose a spiral dynamic model of change in which people often regress to an earlier stage in making progress through a sequence of pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance stages. ...
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The transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM) has been extended to describe the process of change in victims of intimate partner violence (IPV); however, it has not been validated over time or in a population of women experiencing IPV who are not currently in shelter. This article examines the process of change in IPV victims longitudinally and identifies factors that may relate to staging and stage progression. Fifty-three women were enrolled on presentation to an emergency department for health care treatment and completed follow-up at 3 to 4 months. Measures of TTM staging, use of community resources, ongoing abuse, mental health, and social support were collected. Cluster analyses were conducted, and descriptive summaries of clusters and significant demographic, abuse, and outcome variables related to cluster membership are presented. A five-cluster solution was selected on the basis of parsimony, theory, and overall coherence with the data. Forward progression through the stages over time was related to both the use of community resources and ending the IPV relationship.
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Many contemporary medical conditions have been found to be the consequence of lifestyle choices. These adverse habit patterns have their origin in the individuals family and/or natural social network. Primary care practitioners frequently interact with their patients for the purpose of helping them resolve medical problems by clarifying issues or presenting different options. In lifestyle related conditions, the initiation and maintenance of possible behaviour changes is usually the optimal resolution. How people intentionally change well-established behaviour patterns is still not well understood, and most clinicians are not confident in their ability to help patients alter adverse behaviours. Several studies provide support for a 'stage-matched framework' of behaviour change that integrates readiness for change with intervention processes from various theoretical models. This article provides a brief overview of the current thinking with respect to self-initiated and professionally facilitated behaviour change, and then describes a generic five-step approach to individualized lifestyle counselling for use in primary care clinical settings.
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The present study investigates self-generated coping strategies and efficacy ratings in high risk for relapse situations of 50 adolescents treated for drug and alcohol abuse. Coping responses and self-efficacy assessments were elicited for self-generated high risk for relapse situations in which all teens successfully abstained and for responses generally used in such situations. Abstainers and relapsers were predicted to generate similar responses for successful abstinence situations, while relapsers were expected to generate fewer coping strategies and lower self-efficacy for high risk relapse situations in general. Teens with the poorest drug use outcome reported use of significantly fewer problem solving coping strategies and less self-efficacy in general high risk relapse situations. Results are discussed in relation to the cognitive behavioral theory of relapse and to previous findings on the process of relapse in teen substance abusers.
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Maintenance of Health BehaviorsUnderstanding Health Behavior MaintenanceConclusions References
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Self-Control and Adolescent Substance UseParents and Adolescent Substance UseThe Role of PeersConclusion Author NoteReferences
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Monthly returns to firms with optimistic expectations are 1.5% lower versus firms with pessimistic expectations, while annual buy-and-hold returns to firms with opti-mistic expectations are 20% lower. The optimistic component of stock prices lingers months after the optimism is revealed to the market. It also exists separately from the component related to analyst forecast dispersion. The possibility that forecast disper-sion is related to transitory versus permanent earnings is proposed. Several recent studies find that analyst earnings forecast properties are related to stock returns. 1 Firms with low dispersion or low error outperform firms with high dispersion or high error. Some researchers believe that firms with highly dispersed forecasts tend to re-flect the views of optimistic investors who are subse-quently disappointed, causing these firms to suffer per-sistently low stock returns. Another possibility is that firms with losses have returns that are different from firms with profits (e.g., Ettredge and Fuller [1991]). Loss firms are associated with overwhelmingly opti-mistic forecasts and low transparency levels (Ciccone [2001]). The purpose of this study is to examine the relation between optimistic expectations and stock returns. The testing analyzes three central issues: 1) the extent to which optimism is a component of stock returns, 2) the relation between any optimism component of stock re-turns and analyst forecast properties, and 3) the rela-tion between any optimism component of stock returns and losses. Optimism is measured using analyst forecasts. Ana-lysts are important for several reasons: they are profes-sional market watchers, and their judgments of stock and earnings performance are followed closely by in-vestors (e.g., Brown and Rozeff [1978]; Crichfield, Dyckman, Lakonishok [1978]; Givoly and Lakonishok [1979]; Fried and Givoly [1982]; and Lys and Sohn [1990]). Importantly, analyst forecasts provide a hu-man-level measure of investor sentiment. 2 Optimism is determined concurrently with returns. Although the measure cannot predict returns ex ante, it does indicate the extent to which optimism is impounded in stock prices. Previous studies do not use a direct measure of optimism. For example, Ackert and Athanassakos [1997] and Dieter, Malloy, and Scherbina [2002] relate forecast optimism to the dispersion of analyst forecasts and show that the dispersion is related to stock returns. Other studies use either time series earnings estimates or analysts' forecasts of earnings growth rates (e.g., Lakonishok, Shleifer, and Vishny [1994]; Chan, Jegadeesh, and Lakonishok [1996]; LaPorta [1996]). I use portfolio sorts and a Fama–MacBeth [1973] cross-sectional regression framework. The results clearly indicate a large optimism component of stock returns. Firms with optimistic expectations earn signif-icantly lower returns; their annual buy-and-hold re-turns are on average 20% lower than firms without op-timistic expectations. These lower returns occur in every sample year, with the smallest annual difference being 9.5%. The optimism component of returns exists independently of size and book-to-market compo-nents. The results are not confined to firms having high dispersion as is proposed in previous studies. Further-more, the results are unrelated to loss firms. The market appears to eliminate the optimism in-herent in stock prices slowly. For example, during a month in which the previously held optimism should have been completely removed from the stock price, returns for optimistic stocks are still 0.92% lower on average (11.04% annualized). The market reacts differently to the improved earnings of transparent firms (low dispersion or low error) versus opaque firms (high dispersion or high error). The possi-bility is raised that the market believes the improved earn-ings of opaque firms to be more transitory in nature versus the improved earnings of transparent firms.
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The present article reviews recent research on motivational factors that influence the success of personal goals. Although achieving progress on personal goals is made difficult by limitations in self-regulatory strength, it is argued that individuals who feel autonomous regarding their goals will benefit in distinct ways. The issue of autonomy concerns whether a goal reflects an individual's interests and personal values versus whether it is adopted because of social pressures or expectations of what an individual "should do." Recent research indicates that autonomous goal motivation can lead directly to greater goal progress by allowing individuals to exert more effort, experience less conflict, and feel a greater sense of readiness to change their behaviour. It also allows individuals to make better use of implementation plans specifying how, when, and where they will enact goal-directed behaviours. Support from other people (health care providers, etc.) can play a vital role in facilitating goal pursuits, especially when such support enhances feelings of autonomy. Successful goal progress results in enhanced positive affect and reduced negative affect, particularly if the goal pursuits involved satisfaction of intrinsic psychological needs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This paper proposes that the January Effect is at least partly explained by a behavioral framework based on optimistic expectations. The turn-of-the-year is hypothesized to be a time of renewed optimism. Indeed, investor sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Confidence, peaks in January. Thus, optimists are expected to bid up the stock prices of firms with higher levels of uncertainty in January. These firms will subsequently underperform as they disappoint investors during the remainder of the year. Despite the disappointment, the January pattern persists due to the “false hope syndrome” described in the psychology literature. Using forecast dispersion to proxy for uncertainty, the results are consistent with the optimism hypothesis. Similar reasoning may help explain other anomalies.
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Although social skills training (SST) programs have been shown to improve children's long-term developmental outcomes, school personnel are not typically able to implement such programs. This article outlines the institutional and organizational supports, trainer selection criteria, and the training needed for school counselors to successfully implement and sustain a SST program for children. Social skills programs will only become routine in the classroom if the school setting provides administrative support for skills training, and structures to encourage implementation of SST programs (especially substantial and ongoing training based in the classroom setting). In addition to organizational level considerations, SST trainers need to be socially competent, be able to manage children in small groups, be familiar with the theoretical model underlying the SST program, have the opportunity to practice delivering the program, and have positive attitudes toward delivering the program. The procedures for selecting, training, monitoring, and evaluating school counselors who are SST trainers are described.
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SUMMARY In light of recent knowledge regarding the nature of addiction, as well as the pressing impetus of the AIDS epidemic, clinicians must seek out new approaches that enable earlier intervention. This article describes one such model designed for implementation in a community-based agency setting.
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Two studies examined the influence of plan quality on participants' postplanning affective self-reports. Most Study 1 participants reported positive affect after planning for self-change; such positive reports were more prominent among those who constructed vague, unstructured plans than among those who constructed detailed, structured plans. Experimental Study 2 demonstrated that the relation between plan quality and consequent affect is mediated in part by planners' perceptions of imminent goal attainment, that poor planning confers the benefit of energization, and that good planning confers the affective liability of anxiety and agitation. Results of both studies suggest that the act of constructing a vague self-change plan provides immediate affective and cognitive benefits. Thus, plan construction can be a reinforcing activity, in and of itself.
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The present investigation examined the effects of trait and goal inspiration on goal progress. Undergraduate students reported three goals they intended to pursue throughout the semester and completed measures of trait and goal inspiration as well as measures of personality traits. Participants then reported on goal progress three times at monthly intervals throughout the semester. Result showed that trait inspiration predicted goal progress, and that this effect was fully mediated by goal inspiration and held after controlling for the Big Five personality traits. Additional within-person analyses of goal inspiration showed that most of the variance in goal inspiration was due to between-person individual differences. Furthermore, analyses of the direction of causality between goal inspiration and goal progress revealed a bi-directional relationship. Discussion focused on the implications and future directions for research on inspiration.
Conference Paper
A massive, systemic, and yet largely silent revolution is occurring in mental health today and is gathering steam for tomorrow: self-help efforts without professional intervention. The self-help revolution traverses multiple disciplines and entails diverse activities: changing behavior by oneself, reading and applying self-help books, attending support and 12-step groups, watching movies and incorporating their cinematic lessons, surfing the Internet for advice and treatment, and ingesting herbal medications without medical supervision. These and additional examples all point to people making concerted efforts to change themselves on their own. In some ways, the self-help movement merely represents a continuation of the timeless human quest to understand and conquer behavioral disorders. In ancient Greece, early Africa, and colonial America, people relied on self-change. But in more fundamental ways, the self-help revolution in mental health is relatively recent and qualitatively different. The numbers, in this case anyway, do not lie. Consider the following representative statistics attesting to the surge of self-help. More than 70% of Americans suffering from a diagnosable behavioral or mental disorder will never receive specialized mental health care and instead will grapple with the disorder on their own and with the support of others (Kessler et al., 1994; president's Commission on Mental Health, 1978). Forty-two percent of American adults currently use alternative therapies, up from 34% just 7 years ago (Eisenberg et al., 1998). Worldwide, an estimated 80% of individuals use herbal medicines; in the United States, last year an estimated 7.5 million individuals tried St. John's Wort to combat depression and 10.8 million tried Ginkgo biloba to enhance memory (Greenwald, 1998). Fully 5% of American adults attended a self-help group in the past year (Eisenberg et al., 1998). Two-thirds of all Internet users have sought healthcare information there (Nickelson, 1999), and we cannot even begin to quantify the burgeoning reliance on the Internet to access information and advice. A steady diet of self-help books appears at the estimated rate of 2,000 per year (Rosen, 1993), and they routinely occupy prominent places on the best-seller lists. They are written on every conceivable self-help topic, as the following list of self-help titles vividly demonstrates: Dance naked in your living room How to juggle women without getting killed or going broke I lost 600 pounds: I can sun help you lose 30 Change your underwear, change your life Dated Jekyll, married Hyde Boldly live as you have never lived before: Life lessons from star Trtk Asshole no more: A self-help guide for recovering assholes and their victims The Fairy Godmother's guide to dating and mating Celestial 911-Call with your right brain for answers In this article, I will briefly trace the reasons for this self-help revolution and, more urgently, argue for organized psychology's vital involvement in it.
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Treating entire populations for multiple behavior risks can produce unprecedented impacts for the prevention and management of chronic diseases. Two principles are needed to produce such impacts. The first is to have health promotion programs that are matched to each of the stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The second is to proactively reach out to populations to let them know that interactive and individualised programs can help them whether they are ready, getting ready, or not ready to take action on major behavior risks for chronic disease and premature death. Evidence demonstrates how such programs with single risks like smoking and multiple behavior risks can be effective with entire populations.
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Although numerous factors have been demonstrated in laboratory settings to lead to more successful health goal attainment, their actual use in daily goal pursuit is unknown. This study examines spontaneously reported health goals and their characteristics in a sample of 557 American adults. Participants responded to questions about health and health goals, with items assessing motivation, social support, and implementation intentions. In all, 66 percent of respondents had a health goal, 26 percent of participants had implementation intentions, and 47 percent received support from close others. Results suggest that interventions should focus on encouraging goal setting, teaching implementation intentions, and educating close others in providing support.
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Cost-effective, quick-acting, efficacious, and long-lasting treatments are needed to augment traditional drug and psychotherapy treatments. This chapter describes the potential of positive activity interventions (PAIs): that is, simple, self-administered cognitive and behavioral strategies that can increase subjective well-being by promoting positive feelings, positive thoughts, and positive behaviors. The chapter proposes that PAIs could complement traditional drug and psychotherapy treatments by building strengths and working to address the paucity of positive affect, engagement, and life meaning that characterize depression. Historically, conventional treatments have focused on mitigating depressive symptoms, but most people want not only to not be depressed but also to flourish and feel happy. Most research on PAIs has been conducted on nondepressed, nonclinical populations. PAIs involving the practice of gratitude, kindness, and optimism have beenshown to reliably increase well-being across many different settings in nonclinical samples.
Almost everyone struggles to act in their individual and collective best interests, particularly when doing so requires forgoing a more immediately enjoyable alternative. Other than exhorting decision makers to "do the right thing," what can policymakers do to reduce overeating, undersaving, procrastination, and other self-defeating behaviors that feel good now but generate larger delayed costs? In this review, we synthesize contemporary research on approaches to reducing failures of self-control. We distinguish between self-deployed and other-deployed strategies and, in addition, between situational and cognitive intervention targets. Collectively, the evidence from both psychological science and economics recommends psychologically informed policies for reducing failures of self-control.
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Psychoactive drug use by teens is a common occurrence. This article examines the influences that promote and deter experimentation with and hazardous use of psychoactive substances. Clinical guidance is offered on how to assess and intervene with teens and their parents at various developmental phases and levels of involvement with drugs. Understanding how youth make decisions to change their behavior can assist a clinician in helping a teenager avoid these problems.
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Investigated the functional relations among cognitive appraisal and coping processes and their short-term outcomes within stressful encounters. The authors used an intraindividual analysis of the interrelations among primary appraisal (what was at stake in the encounter), secondary appraisal (coping options), 8 forms of problem- and emotion-focused coping, and encounter outcomes in a sample of 85 married couples (females aged 35–45 yrs and males aged 26–54 yrs). Findings show that coping was strongly related to cognitive appraisal; the forms of coping that were used varied depending on what was at stake and the options for coping. Coping was also differentially related to satisfactory and unsatisfactory encounter outcomes. Findings clarify the functional relations among appraisal and coping variables and the outcomes of stressful encounters. (47 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Subjects (N = 970) representing five stages of smoking cessation (precontemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance, and relapse) were given a 65-item test measuring 10 basic processes of change. Subjects recorded the last time they quit smoking, their current use, the frequency of occurrence, and the degree of item helpfulness. A 40-item questionnaire provided highly reliable measures of 10 processes of change, labeled (a) consciousness raising, (b) dramatic relief, (c) self-liberation, (d) social liberation, (e) counterconditioning, (f) stimulus control, (g) self-reevaluation, (h) environmental reevaluation, (i) reinforcement management, and (j) helping relationship. In a confirmatory analysis, 770 subjects were assessed 6 months later. The analysis both confirmed the 10-process model and revealed two secondary factors, Experiential and Behavioral, which were composed of 5 processes each and reflected how individuals in particular stages use more than 1 process at a time. The transtheoretical model of change and available external validity evidence are reviewed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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An integrative model of change was applied to the study of 872 Ss (mean age 40 yrs) who were changing their smoking habits on their own. Ss represented the following 5 stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance, and relapse. 10 processes of change were expected to receive differential emphases during particular stages of change. Results indicate that Ss (a) used the fewest processes of change during precontemplation; (b) emphasized consciousness raising during the contemplation stage; (c) emphasized self-reevaluation in both contemplation and action stages; (d) emphasized self-liberation, a helping relationship, and reinforcement management during the action stage; and (e) used counterconditioning and stimulus control the most in both action and maintenance stages. Relapsers responded as a combination of contemplaters and people in action would. Results are discussed in terms of developing a model of self-change of smoking and enhancing a more integrative general model of change. (14 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Investigated the functional relations among cognitive appraisal and coping processes and their short-term outcomes within stressful encounters. The authors used an intraindividual analysis of the interrelations among primary appraisal (what was at stake in the encounter), secondary appraisal (coping options), 8 forms of problem- and emotion-focused coping, and encounter outcomes in a sample of 85 married couples (females aged 35–45 yrs and males aged 26–54 yrs). Findings show that coping was strongly related to cognitive appraisal; the forms of coping that were used varied depending on what was at stake and the options for coping. Coping was also differentially related to satisfactory and unsatisfactory encounter outcomes. Findings clarify the functional relations among appraisal and coping variables and the outcomes of stressful encounters. (47 ref)
Article
focus on social support provided by informal social networks as opposed to support provided by professionals describe a number of processes by which others may influence smoking cessation and maintenance and argue that specific processes are tied to specific stages of behavioral change discuss the evidence for the importance of these processes at particular stages of change and propose alternative strategies for intervening in these processes (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Accumulating data from three fields of research and practical endeavor point to strong similarities in the way in which service delivery systems operate. Psychotherapy, medical delivery systems, and client behavior in addiction treatment all show the "same" negatively accelerating, declining, decay curve that is based, respectively, on attrition, noncompliance, and relapse across a wide range of independent variables within each research area. Unification and understanding of outcome data and comparisons across treatment modalities can be enhanced by recognition of the apparent universality of the decay function. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Fourteen different measures were investigated as predictors of change in smoking status for self-change efforts at smoking cessation. Adult subjects (N = 866) were classified into five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance, and relapse. Subjects were assessed on 10 change processes, self-efficacy, temptations to smoke, and their decisions weighing the advantages and disadvantages of smoking; and these 14 variables were used as predictors of change in smoking status 6 months later. Six significant functions were found which predicted movement for each of the stages. These predictors are both theoretical interest and practical significance because they may be modified in self-change efforts to overcome addictive behaviors. Overall, the change processes of self-reevaluation and the helping relationship and the self-efficacy and decisional balance variables were the most efficacious predictor variables. A general pattern emerged in which processes oriented more toward environmental events, such as dramatic relief and social liberation, tended to predict failure or no progress whereas more experientially oriented processes predicted progress.
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Two groups of alcoholics received either one counseling session or several months of in- and outpatient treatment. One year later there were no significant differences in outcome between the two groups.
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This study tracked the coping processes and self-reported outcomes of 213 adults making New Year's resolutions in order to identify prospective variables which predict successful self-change and to examine the relative effectiveness of various coping strategies. Prior to January 1st, participants provided information on their resolutions, demographic characteristics, and five variables previously associated with positive outcome. Subsequent telephone interviews ascertained short-term retrospective accounts of the utilization of 14 coping strategies and self-reported outcomes over six months. Readiness to change and self-efficacy, but not social support or behavioral skills, prospectively predicted successful outcome at both one week and one month. Successful resolvers were also found to report employing significantly more behavioral strategies and less self-blame and wishful thinking than unsuccessful resolvers. These findings are discussed within the context of previous research on self-initiated change, and several implications for clinical practice are offered.
Article
Examines relapse by integrating knowledge from the addictive disorders of alcoholism, smoking, and obesity. Commonalities across these areas suggest at least 3 basic stages of behavior change: motivation and commitment, initial change, and maintenance. A distinction is made between lapse and relapse, with lapse referring to the process (slips or mistakes) that may or may not lead to an outcome (relapse). The natural history of relapse is discussed, as are the consequences of relapse for patients and the professionals who treat them. Information on determinants and predictors of relapse is evaluated, with the emphasis on the interaction of individual, environmental, and physiological factors. Methods of preventing relapse are proposed and are targeted to the 3 stages of change. (156 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study investigated the change processes that laypersons (N = 270) and psychologists (N = 158) reported using to overcome psychological distress. Eighty-nine percent of the community sample and 82% of the professional sample experienced at least one episode of distress. Interpersonal relationships and willpower strategies were employed commonly in both samples; medication was used infrequently. Gender, education, and previous treatment were related to coping processes among laypersons. A comparative analysis indicated that, relative to laypersons, psychologists exhibited a larger and more varied repertoire of coping strategies.
Article
The tradition of making New Year's Resolutions presents an opportunity to study the formation and stability of self-initiated attempts to change behavior. In an exploratory investigation, Ss were asked to report any resolutions made at the beginning of a new year. In order to provide an objective measure of the effectiveness of resolutions, Ss who were resolved to lose weight were studied independently of Ss making other types of resolutions. Ss who resolved to lose weight and control Ss who made no resolutions were assigned either to a monitoring or nonmonitoring group for a 3-mo. period (monitored Ss were weighed every 3 wk.). No significant differences were obtained in weight change for the factors of resolution or monitoring. Monitoring (by periodic questionnaires) also did not increase the effectiveness of the other resolutions studied. General resolutions were classified, and the resulting categories were related to the duration of kept resolutions and to the circumstances under which resolutions were broken.
Article
Most smoking cessation treatments are predicated on the assumption that the course of smoking reduction is psychologically homogeneous. The present study tested an alternative model incorporating three distinct stages: initial decision, initial control, and maintenance. Three measures (perceived health locus of control, desire to stop, and self-esteem) were used to predict self-initiated smoking reduction in 61 regular smokers. Criterion smoking change measures (one for each stage) were obtained at follow-up. Multiple regression analyses of the criteria showed a different set of predictors were significant for each: desire to stop predicted the decision to reduce smoking, self-esteem predicted initial smoking reduction, and the combination of internal health locus of control beliefs and strong desire to stop predicted successful maintenance of reduction. The differential success across criteria of the predictors shows the value of the stage analysis and suggests the development of smoking treatments varying by stage.
Article
Explored the effectiveness of coping responses reported to a hotline by ex-smokers dealing with temptations to smoke. Earlier findings on the effectiveness of cognitive and behavioral responses for 183 smokers were cross-validated on 75 new Ss. The number of coping responses had no effect, but combining cognitive and behavioral responses enhanced effectiveness. Formal smoking cessation treatment resulted in more behavioral coping, especially relaxation and physical activity, but had no effect on coping effectiveness. Seven types of behavioral coping were equally effective: Each was significantly more effective than no coping response and equal to other behavioral responses in preventing relapse. A similar pattern held for 8 types of cognitive coping, except that the use of willpower was significantly inferior to other cognitive responses, and self-punitive thoughts were entirely ineffective. The implications of these findings for the coping skill model of self-control and for clinical practice are discussed. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Data on the antecedents of relapse crises (actual or near lapses in abstinence) were collected from 183 former smokers who called a relapse-counseling hotline. Most relapse crises were associated with anxiety, anger, and depression. One-third of relapse crises were associated with positive feeling states and were frequently precipitated by other smokers, eating, and alcohol consumption. Withdrawal symptoms played a part in only half of the episodes. Ss' coping responses rather than situational antecedents distinguished relapse crises resulting in smoking from those in which abstinence was maintained. A combination of cognitive and behavioral responses was most successful. Behavioral coping was subject to situational influences; Ss who had been drinking alcohol were less likely to engage in behavioral coping, and depression diminished its effectiveness. Cognitive coping responses, which were less affected by these variables, may be critical components of former smokers' coping repertoires. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study analyzes the ways 100 community-residing men and women aged 45 to 64 coped with the stressful events of daily living during one year. Lazarus's cognitive-phenomenological analysis of psychological stress provides the theoretical framework. Information about recently experienced stressful encounters was elicited through monthly interviews and self-report questionnaires completed between interviews. At the end of each interview and questionnaire, the participant indicated on a 68-item Ways of Coping checklist those coping thoughts and actions used in the specific encounter. A mean of 13.3 episodes was reported by each participant. Two functions of coping, problem-focused and emotion-focused, are analyzed with separate measures. Both problem- and emotion-focused coping were used in 98% of the 1,332 episodes, emphasizing that coping conceptualized in either defensive or problem-solving terms is incomplete- both functions are usually involved. Intraindividual analyses show that people are more variable than consistent in their coping patterns. The context of an event, who is involved, how it is appraised, age, and gender are examined as potential influences on coping. Context and how the event is appraised are the most potent factors. Work contexts favor problem-focused coping, and health contexts favor emotion-focused coping. Situations in which the person thinks something constructive can be done or that are appraised as requiring more information favor problem-focused coping, whereas those having to be accepted favor emotion-focused coping. There are no effects associated with age, and gender differences emerge only in problem-focused coping: Men use more problem-focused coping than women at work and in situations having to be accepted and requiring more information. Contrary to the cultural stereotype, there are no gender differences in emotion-focused coping.
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