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J Adolesc. 1996 Apr;19(2):163-77.

Self-image, the smoker stereotype and cigarette smoking: developmental patterns from fifth through eighth grade

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Department of Psychology, St John's University, Jamaica, NY 11439, U.S.A.


In the present study the role of self-consistency and self-enhancement motivations in adolescent cigarette smoking was examined. Respondents were 1971 fifth through eighth graders. They were asked to provide information about the number of cigarettes they had smoked in their lifetime and to rate themselves and most smokers on nine dimensions tapping coolness, sociability and intelligence. The results revealed that similarity between the self-image and smoker stereotype increases with age. In addition, evidence for self-consistency motivations for smoking was obtained on all three traits and support for self-enhancement motivations emerged for the cool trait. Finally, it was found that self-consistency becomes increasingly important from fifth to eighth grade. This is the first empirical demonstration of developmental differences in the relation between the self-image, the smoker stereotype and smoking. The importance of the self-identification process in adolescent smoking is discussed.


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