Exposure to Cigarette Advertising and Adolescents' Intentions to Smoke

The Moderating Role of the Developing Self-Concept

Published In: Journal of pediatric Psychology, v. 33, no. 7, Aug. 2008, p. 751-760

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2008

by William G. Shadel, Shannah Tharp-Gilliam, Craig S. Fryer

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OBJECTIVE: Increased exposure to cigarette advertisements is associated with increases in adolescent smoking but the reasons for this association are not known. This study evaluated whether the developmental maturity of the self-concept, operationalized as self-conflict, moderated smoking intentions following exposure to cigarette advertisements among adolescents who have never smoked. METHODS: Eighty-seven adolescents (ages 11-17): (a) completed measures of self-conflict; (b) were exposed to 30 contemporary cigarette advertisements; and (c) rated their intentions to smoke following exposure to each ad. RESULTS: Younger adolescents with higher numbers of self-conflicts who also said that cigarette advertising was relevant to them had stronger smoking intentions compared to younger adolescents with lower numbers of self-conflicts after exposure to cigarette advertising. Self-conflict did not play as strong a role with older adolescents. CONCLUSIONS: Younger adolescents (i.e., middle school aged) who are having the most difficulty figuring out who they are are most susceptible to the effects of cigarette advertising.

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