Psychosocial Predictors of Young Adolescent Cigarette Smoking: A Sixteen‐Month, Three‐Wave Longitudinal Study

Linda M. Collins, Steve Sussman, Jill Mestel Rauch, Clyde W. Dent, C. Anderson Johnson, William B. Hansen, Brian R. Flay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the psychosocial factors that predict cigarette smoking onset in young people is of crucial importance for prevention efforts. The present study examined prospective psychosocial predictors of smoking in a three‐wave longitudinal data set. Similar in design to an earlier study by Chassin, Presson, Sherman, Corty, and Olshavsky (1984), the present study replicated their work, and extended it by (a) using composite predictors derived from exploratory factor analysis, (b) including prior behavior as a predictor, (c) using a design extended over three waves of data collection, and (d) using a sample composed primarily of urban teenagers. Subjects were 3295 7th‐grade students at the beginning of the study. The subjects completed a questionnaire containing items tapping cigarette smoking behavior and psychosocial items that have previously been shown to predict smoking behavior. Forty‐one psychosocial items on the Wave 1 (initial) questionnaire were factor analyzed, and five factors were retained. Subscale scores were constructed based on these factors and were used as predictors. Regression analyses were performed using the subscales and pretest smoking frequency to predict a continuous measure of smoking, and discriminant analyses were performed to predict transitions between qualitative levels of smoking. Prior smoking behavior was the most important predictor of future smoking. Four of the subscales, Social Disapproval, Risk Taking/Rebelliousness, Perceived Smoking Prevalence, and Motivation to Comply, were significant predictors. One subscale, Physical Consequences from Smoking, was not predictive of smoking in any of the analyses. The effect sizes cross‐validated well. It is suggested that an integrative model of smoking initiation developed by Flay, d'Avernas, Best, Kersell, and Ryan (1983) best summarizes the results of the present study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-573
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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