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Psychol Rep. 1992 Jun;70(3 Pt 1):675-81.

Psychological attributes of young adult smokers.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, South Australia.


To study the psychological aspects of cigarette-smoking in community adults, we examined longitudinal data from a sample of young people (from age 15 to 23 years). Questions on smoking behavior had been asked during the last five years of the study, and information on self-esteem, depressive affect, negative mood, hopelessness, psychological disturbance, locus of control, social alienation and health was also available. Current smokers in the last year of the study had differed from nonsmokers nine years previously by having more external locus of control and now were less likely to report their health as excellent. Most smokers also drank alcohol, but cigarette consumption did not differ for drinkers and nondrinkers. Contrary to expectations, current smokers showed no distinctive psychological attributes, and those who started or stopped smoking were similarly undistinctive in psychological terms. Results suggest that efforts to stress the self-destructive or antisocial nature of tobacco use have not been accepted by the smokers in this age group (M = 23.6 yr.).

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