Nonsmokers' Attributions for the Outcomes of Smokers: Some Potential Consequences of the Stigmatization of Smokers1


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    I wish to thank Nicole Scarpato and Ilir Arifaj for their help in the data-collection process. In addition, I would like to thank Fred Rhodewalt and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bryan Gibson, Department of Psychology, Central Michigan University, Sloan Hall 101, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859. e-mail:


The current research examines intergroup attributional biases made by nonsmokers for the outcomes of smokers. Nonsmokers were asked to make attributions for either the success or failure of either an in-group member (a nonsmoker) or an out-group member (a smoker). Overall, subjects attributed the preponderance of cause for the outcomes to external or unstable (approximately 80%) rather than internal (approximately 20%) factors. However, results confirmed the expected in-group protective and in-group enhancing attributions on the part of nonsmokers. Specifically, nonsmokers attributed a significantly higher proportion of success to external factors and a lower proportion of success to internal factors when the target was a smoker compared to when the target was a nonsmoker. The implications of these results for smokers and smoking policy are discussed.