Psychological and Social Risk Factors in Adolescent Smoking Transitions: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study

Jonathan B. Bricker, Kumar Rajan, Maureen Zalewski, M. Robyn Andersen, Madelaine Ramey, Arthur V. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Objective: This study longitudinally investigated psychological and social risk factors consistent with the Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI) as predictors of adolescent smoking transitions. Design: Among 4218 adolescents, five psychological risk factors (i.e., parent-noncompliance, friend-compliance, rebelliousness, low achievement motivation, and thrill seeking) were assessed in 9th grade (age 14), two social influence risk factors (i.e., parents' and close friends' smoking) were assessed in Grades 3 (age 8) and 9 (age 14), respectively. Main Outcome Measures: Adolescent smoking transitions occurring between the 9th and 12th (ages 14-17) grade interval. Results: The probabilities contributed by each of the five psychological risk factors to the overall probability of making a specific smoking transition were: 22% to 27% for the transition from never to trying smoking, 10% to 13% for the transition from trying to monthly smoking, and, for three of the five risk factors, 11% to 16% for the transition from monthly to daily smoking. For predicting trying smoking, the probability contributed by these psychological factors was greater than the probability contributed by each parent's and close friend's smoking. Parent-compliance had a higher contribution to the probability of trying smoking when an adolescent's parent smoked (p < .05), whereas friend-compliance had a higher contribution to the probability of trying smoking when an adolescent's friend smoked (p < .001). Conclusion: These psychological and social factors have an important influence on adolescent smoking transitions. Implications for TTI and smoking prevention interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-447
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • adolescents
  • friends
  • parents
  • psychological influences
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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