Smoking Hurts Your Chances of Getting Laid
written June 8, 2008
When I find out a girl smokes, itís like hitting the off button to my boner.
Cognitive dissonance theory has been, maybe not entirely adequate, but a satisfying device for understanding the oftentimes irrational behavior of people. The basic premise is that we donít like having new behaviors or cognitions (i.e. thoughts, emotions, ideals) that conflict with already established cognitions or behavioral patterns. In addition, and equally as important, people do NOT like to change established cognitions or behavior patterns. So when faced with a new cognition or behavior, weíre keen to reject it in favor of the one we already practice and then rationalize it. Think of it as cognitive/behavioral inertia.
One psychology experiment that demonstrates this with surprising results is as follows. Participants were split into three groups (unbeknownst to each other). I'll call them the $0 group, the $1 group, and the $20 group. The participants of all three groups had to do some mind-numbingly boring task, like press a button every time a light flashed, for an entire hour. Afterwards, they got the money according to the group they were in, either no money, $1, or $20, and were then asked to fill out a questionnaire on how much they enjoyed the experiment. You would expect everybody to say they didn't enjoy it because it was so painfully monotonous and boring. But the results were: the $20 group said they hated it, the $0 group said they hated it, but the $1 group said they enjoyed it. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? It makes sense for the $20 group to say they hated it - they got $20 in exchange for the torture. And the researchers expected the lesser-money groups to say they enjoyed using cognitive dissonance to rationalize their waste of time. So why did the $1 group enjoy it but not the $0 group? I think it's because the $0 group got totally shafted so they were realistic, whereas the $1 group got some compensation, but a shitty amount, so the high expectation disappointed by a mere dollar was what triggered the rationalization.
This happens about a thousand times on a daily basis. For example, we choose not to run red lights because it goes against everything weíve been taught. On the rare instance in which we do engage in the behavior, we usually maintain the old cognition but rationalize the new:
Sure running a red light is bad more often than not, but Iíll get fired if Iím late to work again, so Iíll run it this one time. Very rarely do we outright reject the old cognition in favor of the new one:
Safety is not important, Iím going to run every red light from this day forward.
Addictions. We engage in certain behaviors (smoking, drinking, gambling, gluttony, whatever) despite knowing these behaviors are detrimental to our health, life, and overall wellbeing. We are faced with the opportunity to change the behavior, but do we? Behavioral inertia + cognitive dissonance theory = fat chance. Iíve heard every rationalization in the book...
Who cares if smoking causes cancer? Iím not going to live that long anyways; I might as well enjoy my life now. Besides, I need something to help me deal with all this stress. This is a development of cognition of higher priority: instant gratification is more important than long-term health.
Who caaaaaares if drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol is slowly draining my bank account and ruining my relationships? I wonít live long enough to save for retirement anyway. And if they donít like me for me, fuck Ďem. This is the lowering priority of a conflicting cognition: money and relationships arenít as important as my instant gratifications from drinking.
Who caaaaaares if Iím blowing my monthly salary on craps and roulette? Life is a free-roll! Money is immaterial to me. These cognitions were fucked from the beginning: this guy is retarded.
Oh, another funny one is when a guy gets rejected by a hot girl and then says,
Whatever, she wasnít that hot anyways, or anything similar. This is cognitive dissonance theory at its purest. He thought he could get with hot girls (previously established cognition), but he just got rejected by a hot girl (conflict). In response, heís developed an overriding cognition about her specific beauty (
she's not that hot anyway) to lessen the credence of the undeniable fact that he cannot get with her. This is as opposed to replacing his old cognition about what a player he is by accepting the new reality that she's simply out of his league. This phenomenon may be more easily recognized as superciliousness, egocentrism, or pig-headedness. Or just plain ignorance under the faÁade of confidence.
Anyway, and I hate to say this, but what inspired me to write about this was a girl I met one night. She was into me, but she was a smoker. Iím fairly blunt, so I told her that kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray. Her cognitive dissonance was immediately hitting on all four cylinders. Seeing a hint of steam emitting from her ears, I could only imagine the ostensible line of reasoning taking place in that alcohol and estrogen addled brain of hersÖ
Ok so I want to fuck this guy, but he doesnít like smokers and I want to keep smoking. Iím a flakey bitch who sleeps around to dilute my insecurity, and heís my best shot at not going home alone tonight. Fuck. UhhÖ *birds whistling* ÖFuck. Letís see, I guess I could stop smoking? Nahhh. But then that means I canít sleep with him. Ok, I could go for another guy that doesnít mind smokers? No no no, Iím not all that interesting; my chances arenít very good at this point in the night. Oh fuck it, Iíll toss up a Hail Mary.
Well, I only smoke when I drink.
Maybe if enough guys turn her down, sheíll reprioritize her sex life over smoking and reject her old behavior. Or maybe sheíll just continue to be a stupid bitch. Or maybe, just maybe, this entire article is the manifestation of cognitive dissonance from my end, and really the smoker was just out of my league.
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