Quitting smoking is not an easy task. Researchers from the universities of Granada in Spain and San Buenaventura in Bogota, Colombia, demonstrated that motivational interviewing can make smokers see tobacco as something disagreeable, thus helping them to quit the habit. Motivational interviewing is a psychological technique of direct intervention that seeks to produce changes in the patient's behavior.
The research team evaluated the effects upon them of a 20-minute motivational interview. This intervention expressed empathy, and generated discrepancies between current behavior and future targets. It also increased self-efficiency and avoided confrontation and resistance.
Researchers compared the results of this test with another type of standard intervention, and also with a control group. The team then watched whether the willingness to change increased in smokers. To this effect, they measured the amplitude of the shock reflex experimented by study subjects when they were presented with a series of disagreeable images associated to tobacco.
Authors Jaime Vila Castellar and Pedro Guerra pointed out that their results prove that Motivational Interviewing was the most effective sort of intervention. Therefore, the researchers concluded that 'Motivational Interviewing' manages to change, at least temporarily, the emotional response that smokers present before stimuli associated to tobacco, from pleasant to unpleasant, which helps them overcome one of the main obstacles for quitting tobacco consumption, i.e. motivation for change.
The study has been published in Behavior Research and Therapy.