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Behav Processes. 2003 Oct 31;64(3):333-344.

Delay and probability discounting as related to different stages of adolescent smoking and non-smoking.

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West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA


This study examined relations between different patterns of adolescent cigarette smoking and discounting of monetary rewards due to delay (delay discounting) and probabilistic uncertainty (probability discounting). The study also examined the relation between smoking and the number of peer friends who smoke and level of parent education. Participants were 55 adolescents (28 females) between 14 and 16 years of age who were categorized according to the following patterns of smoking behavior: "never smokers" (n=19; 10 females) who had not tried even one cigarette; "triers" (n=17; 9 females) who had recently tried cigarettes for the first time; and "current smokers" (n=19; 9 females) who smoked a minimum of one cigarette every week for at least 6 months prior to data collection. It was hypothesized that current smokers would discount more than those who had never smoked. No specific hypotheses were made for participants only trying cigarettes. Unexpectedly, results indicated no differences in discounting between the current smokers and never smokers. However, the trier group discounted probabilistic rewards significantly more than the never- and current-smoker groups. Also, triers and current smokers both reported having more friends who smoked than never smokers, and fathers of never smokers had significantly more education than fathers of either triers or current smokers. These results suggest that impulsive discounting may be more related to adolescents trying cigarettes than to their becoming regular smokers, whereas number of peer friends who smoke and parent level of education seem to differentiate between those who have smoked to some extent (triers and current smokers) and those who have not even tried cigarettes (never smokers).


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