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Psychol Sci. 2007 Jul;18(7):559-63.

Smoking in movies, implicit associations of smoking with the self, and intentions to smoke.

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  • 1University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


We examined whether identifying with a film character who smokes increases implicit associations of the self with smoking. Undergraduate men were randomly assigned to view film clips in which the male protagonist either smoked or did not smoke. We measured subsequent levels of self-smoking associations using a reaction time task, as well as self-reported beliefs about smoking and smokers. Greater identification with the smoking protagonist predicted stronger implicit associations between the self and smoking (for both smokers and nonsmokers) and increased intention to smoke (among the smokers). Stronger implicit self-smoking associations uniquely predicted increases in smokers' intentions to smoke, over and above the effects of explicit beliefs about smoking. The results provide evidence that exposure to smoking in movies is causally related to changes in smoking-related thoughts, that identification with protagonists is an important feature of narrative influence, and that implicit measures may be useful in predicting deliberative behavior.

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