Get access

Role of anticipated regret, intentions and intention stability in adolescent smoking initiation


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Mark Conner, School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK (e-mail:


Objectives To examine the impact of anticipated regret within the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) on intentions of adolescents to initiate smoking. To examine the moderating role of anticipated regret and intention stability on the relationship between intentions and smoking initiation in adolescents.

Methods We conducted two studies measuring anticipated regret within the TPB applied to adolescent smoking initiation. In the first study, 347 non-smoking adolescents (between 11 and 12 years of age) completed the TPB and anticipated regret measures about smoking initiation. In the second study, 675 non-smoking adolescents (between 11 and 12 years of age) completed the TPB, anticipated regret, and intention stability measures in relation to smoking initiation. Smoking was assessed objectively by carbon monoxide breath monitor 9 months later.

Results In Studies 1 and 2, regret significantly added to predictions of intentions over and above components of the TPB (p <.001). In Study 2, smoking behaviour was predicted by intentions and the relationship of intentions to behaviour was moderated by regret and intention stability.

Conclusions Regret and intention stability were shown to be important variables within the TPB in understanding intentions and behaviour of smoking initiation in adolescents.