Psychological Reactance and Adolescents' Attitudes Toward Tobacco-Control Measures


Nora Wiium, Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, 5015 Bergen, Norway. E-mail:


The theory of psychological reactance predicts that, to the extent that smoking-control measures are perceived as threatening the individual's freedom to choose among behavioral alternatives, they may be met with resistance. Data were collected from a national representative sample of 2,400 young people (ages 16–20) by telephone interviews. Dispositional reactance was shown to be associated with smoking. Principal components analyses revealed that a distinction should be made between attitudes toward weak and attitudes toward strong smoking-control measures. Attitudes toward strong measures were particularly negative among regular smokers. Among regular smokers, dispositional reactance was found to be significantly associated with attitudes toward strong tobacco-control measures. Processes of psychological reactance deserve attention when designing smoking control programs.