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J Behav Med. 1989 Jun;12(3):267-77.

Perceptions of immunity to disease in adult smokers.

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Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


Public education has ensured smokers' awareness of the health risks of smoking. It has been suggested that engaging in a behavior (e.g., smoking) which one knows to be dangerous will result in an unpleasant state of "cognitive dissonance." Smokers may deal with such a state by denying the dangers of smoking. In this study, 97 smokers and 95 nonsmokers (age range, 15-65 years) rated the risk to themselves and to the average Australian smoker of contracting three smoking-related diseases. Evidence supportive of denial of risk was found: smokers' ratings of the risk to the average smoker were lower than nonsmokers' ratings, and smokers' ratings of their own risk were lower still. Such denial of risk may undermine the effectiveness of stop-smoking campaigns which focus on health aspects of smoking, and methods of dealing with this problem are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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