Image Attributions and Smoking Intentions Among Seventh Grade Students


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    Supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (#DA 03468) awarded to Brian R. Flay, W. B. Hansen, and C. A. Johnson and the National Cancer Institute (#CA44907) to S. Sussman, C. W. Dent, D. Burton, A. Stacy, & B. R. Flay, and by a national service award traineeship awarded to D. Burton of a grant from the National Cancer Institute (#CA09492) to C. A. Johnson and J. Richardson.

3Address correspondence regarding this manuscript to Dee Burton, UIC Prevention Research Center, M/C 922, School of Public Health, Box 6998, Chicago, IL 60680.


Previous research has indicated that adolescents who intend to smoke differ from those who do not intend to smoke in the imagery they associate with smoking. The present study examined relationships among self-image, ideal self-image, image of smokers in general and image of models in cigarette ads for seventh-grade students. The strongest finding was a positive correspondence of smokers image to self-image in predicting intention to smoke cigarettes. This correspondence between smokers image and self-image derived from a relative depression of self-image in combination with a relative elevation of smokers image for youth who were more likely to report intentions to smoke. There was also a trend for the ideal self-image of youth with greater intentions to smoke to be similarly depressed. It is suggested that when both self-concept and aspirations for self-improvement are diminished, smoking may seem particularly desirable as a means of enhancing identity.