Living SCIENCE

Research shows: People who are good at maths quit smoking more easily than normal people

What do you think being good at math and smoking is related to each other? But a study by Ohio University, USA, said: People who are good at math who are smoking are more likely to quit smoking than others.

“These results may help explain why more studies have found that more educated smokers are more likely to successfully quit smoking,” said Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, associate professor of psychology. the study’s lead author said.

But do we have to introduce smokers to math classes to help them quit their habits? Luckily, there are always better ways to do that, the researchers said.

How was the experiment performed?


In their study, scientists at Ohio University recruited 696 adult volunteers who smoke. They were given a standardized math test to measure their skills.

The participants were then shown eight different tobacco harm warning labels, each displayed four times on the screen. The warning labels contain many pictures depicting the fear of tobacco, such as a photo of a tombstone of a smoker or pictures of damaged lungs.

Especially, each of these warning labels will have a caption (under US federal law) about the harms of tobacco, along with information about the probability of risk for smokers. For example, a sticker reads: “Smoking can kill you. 75.4% of smokers will die before the age of 85, compared with 53.7% of non-smokers.”

At different times, participants were asked to rate their emotional response to each of the labels, along with how reliable they were and how personal they were.

At the end of the test, each person will be given an additional questionnaire to check how much information they can remember about the dangers and risks of smoking. Volunteers were asked to relate to their own risk level and answer a decisive question: Do they think they will quit in the next 30 days, or within a year?

The participants were then released and scheduled to return 6 weeks later to take the test again.

Publicizing the trial results in the journal Health Psychology, the authors said the study confirmed the findings from the previous study. They say highly emotional warning labels (with a graphic of the damaged lung) are less likely to remain in smokers’ heads immediately after viewing, compared with low-emotion warning labels. (contains cartoon graphics such as a tombstone).

However, after 6 weeks, smokers tended to recall graphic images with intense emotions rather than animated graphics that produced a weak emotion.

Even so, beyond all the effects of the image, the scientists found that people with higher scores on the initial math test tended to have better memorization of the risks involved. tobacco, including statistics. And this has been linked to a better awareness of the dangers of smoking.

“People with better math skills memorized more than the frightening smoking risk numbers we gave them and that made the difference,” says Shoots-Reinhard. And this is associated with a stronger intention to quit.

How to help people who are not good at math quit smoking?
Thus, people who are better at math mean they have a better ability to remember the harmful effects of tobacco. Remembering the harmful effects of tobacco better leads to a higher determination to quit.

Shoots-Reinhard says the results of this study are of great help to health officials and policymakers to assess how they are providing risk information to smokers.

“Smokers with poor arithmetic ability often have very superficial knowledge of the health risks from their habits,” says Shoots-Reinhard. “What we’ve seen here is that people who know the numbers better understand the risks as well.”

That means that the information printed on the warning sticker on the outside of the cigarette pack is not being conveyed too effectively to those who need to know them best. Graphics and slogans are not enough, smokers also need to know the big numbers and intuitively possible.

“We need to find a way to convey that to people who don’t understand numbers well,” says Shoots-Reinhard. In order to improve that, she recommends that the law requires tobacco manufacturers to use simple forms of infographics such as infographics to help smokers with poor arithmetic ability to better understand. risk from your habits.

“We want people to understand the risky information in order to make a smarter decision. Our results show that it can help them make the decision to quit,” Shoots-Reinhard said. .

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