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J Subst Abuse. 1990;2(2):191-200.

Issues in relating self-efficacy to smoking relapse: importance of an "Achilles' heel" situation and of prior quitting experience.

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Department of Psychology, American University, Washington, DC 20016-8062.


Self-efficacy (SE) has predicted relapse in numerous studies of addictive behaviors. This smoking relapse project extended previous SE research in two ways. First, the hypothesis that low SE influences behavior more than does high SE (Wallston, Wallston, Smith & Dobbins, 1987) was evaluated. As predicted, SE in a subject's least confident high-risk situation predicted continuous abstinence in the following 12 months as strongly as did SE averaged across all situations. This result is consistent with the practice of targeting very-low-SE situations for skill training. Second, Bandura's (1977) postulate that direct behavioral experience is the most reliable basis for forming SE judgments was tested. Contrary to prediction, subjects with more past experience in smoking cessation attempts did not make SE ratings of higher predictive validity. Possible roles of dispositional optimism and the preferential use of positive instances in forming predictions are discussed in accounting for this finding.

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