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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report by Eline Mejer

04.11.2015, by Kai Sassenberg in grant report

University of Leiden, The Netherlands; Visit to London South Bank University, UK, with Dr Eleni Vangeli

The EASP travel grant gave me the opportunity to visit Dr. Eleni Vangeli at London South Bank University for two weeks and work together on one of my core projects for my PhD research ”Self- and group-identity in the process of quitting smoking: Harnessing the transitional identity”. It was great to meet Dr. Vangeli and several other renowned researchers in the field of identity and addiction from London South Bank University, Prof. Ian Albery and Dr. Daniel Frings, and University College London, Prof. Robert West and his PhD student Ildiko Tombor. I am based at the Health, Medical and Neuropsychology department al Leiden University, and work together with my two supervisors Dr. Winnie Gebhardt and Prof. Colette van Laar (KU Leuven), as well as with Prof. Arie Dijkstra (University of Groningen), Prof. Bas van den Putte (University of Amsterdam), and Prof. Marc Willemsen (Maastricht University).

Dr Vangeli and I worked together on a longitudinal study ”Identity processes in smokers who want to quit smoking: a longitudinal IPA study” . This study is based on in-depth interviews with smokers who intended to quit, held at three time-points. We explore identity and how identity may change over time, taking an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). Studying identity and identity change among smokers is important to develop our understanding of how identities may influence behaviour, such as smoking cessation attempts and their success, and, in turn, how changing (habitual) behaviour may influence (social) identity.

Previous work shows that identity predicts smoking behaviour (e.g., Høie, Moan, Rise, 2010; Meijer, Gebhardt, Dijkstra, Willemsen, & Van Laar, 2015), but, little work exploring the process of identity change in smokers. Few researchers other than Dr. Vangeli have explored identity change in smokers using in-depth qualitative methods (Vangeli & West, 2012), and working with her was very valuable as such. Moreover, discussing the study and my overall PhD project with her and Professor West led to creative and novel ways to communicate our findings. We also talked about how the findings could eventually be used in a smoking cessation intervention and I am certain that this will benefit future smokers with a desire to quit. Finally, meeting with Ildiko Tombor who works at University College London as a PhD student, and who does some similar work, was very inspiring.

Dr Vangeli and I also discussed working together on a systematic review (meta-ethnography) on qualitative work exploring identity change after cessation of an addictive behaviour including smoking, alcohol, and drugs. I expect our collaboration to maximize the potential contribution of this project to the field of smoking and identity and, more broadly, identity change and general (health) behaviour change processes.

In addition, I had a very inspiring meeting with Prof. Albery and Dr. Frings, who are both based at London South Bank University. They have conducted work in the field of social identity and addiction and it was great to discuss our projects and thoughts about addiction and identity. For example, we talked about differences between implicitly and explicitly measured identity. We also talked about an experimental study that I conducted as part of my PhD project and ways to perform the analysis. Last but not least, promising ideas for collaboration on a transnational project on identity and addictive behaviour were forwarded.

I believe that my visit has been very important for the specific projects that I am working on, and for my development as a researcher. I would like to express my gratitude to EASP for the support that made my visit to London possible!


  • Brown, J. M. (1996). Redefining smoking and the self as a non-smoker. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 18, 414–428.
  • Høie, M., Moan, I. S., & Rise, J. (2010). An extended version of the theory of planned behaviour: Prediction of intentions to quit smoking using past behaviour as moderator. Addiction Research and Theory, 18, 572-585.
  • Meijer, E., Gebhardt, W. A., Dijkstra, A., Willemsen, M. C., & Van Laar, C. (2015). Quitting smoking: The importance of non-smoker identity in predicting smoking behaviour and responses to a smoking ban. Psychology & Health, online first.
  • Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Vangeli, E., & West, R. (2012). Transition towards a ‘non-smoker’ identity following smoking cessation: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. British Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 171-184.