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Cancer Control Research

5R21CA090716-02
Lipkus, Isaac M.
AFFECTING PERCEIVED RISKS AND AMBIVALENCE ABOUT SMOKING

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Youth smoking cessation programs have applied various models of attitude-behavior relations to explain smoking behaviors. As teens and young adults experiment with and continue to smoke, they view the positive outcomes of smoking as more salient than the negative outcomes. As they think about quitting, negative attitudes and negative outcome expectancies become more salient and compete with existing positive beliefs. Thus, a major challenge is changing the underlying structure of attitudes, with an emphasis on increasing the saliency of negative smoking beliefs to motivate cessation. However, young smokers are less likely to attend to cessation messages and attempt to quit without convincing evidence that smoking is affecting them negatively. Hence, presenting individualized data on the harms of smoking may be sufficiently threatening to increase young smokers' perceived smoking risks and desires to quit. Of import, increasing the personal relevance of smoking consequences via individualized risk feedback should motivate young smokers who perceive their risk as higher to attend to and process smoking-related messages. By increasing the saliency of negative smoking beliefs, young smokers may come to feel more ambivalent about their smoking. Ambivalence is defined as "the extent to which one's reactions to an attitude object are evaluatively mixed in that both positive (favorable) and negative (unfavorable) elements are included" (Priester & Petty, 1996, p. 460). Researchers have yet to explore how: 1) making young smokers feel ambivalent about their smoking affects cessation, and 2) the individualization of smoking risks affects the extent of process smoking-related messages intended to induce ambivalence, and possibly ambivalence itself. Using 120 young adult regular smokers (community college students ages 18-24), we test the efficacy of manipulations intended to increase perceived smoking-related risks and ambivalence towards smoking. Participants will be randomized to a 2 (individualized risk feedback: no/yes) X 2 (smoking ambivalence induction: no/yes) pre-post between subjects design. Participants in the individualized risk condition will get feedback about self-reported respiratory symptoms and lung aging, obtained via spirometry. Smokers in the smoking ambivalence condition will watch a video about college smokers expressing conflicted feeling towards smoking. Assuming the manipulations are successful, it is expected that participants in the individualized risk feedback and smoking ambivalence induction conditions will express a stronger desire to quit, be more likely to use a self-help manual, and reduce.


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