The Role of Cognitive Attributions for Smoking in Subsequent Smoking Progression and Regression Among Adolescents in China

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Multicultural Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Previous studies have documented that cognitive attributions are correlated with adolescent smoking. The present study further explored whether cognitive attributions for smoking influenced adolescents' future smoking behaviors, especially transitions to more advanced stages of smoking.

Participants were 12,382 middle and high school students (48.5% males and 51.5% females) in seven large cities in China. They completed two waves of surveys one year apart. Cognitive attributions for smoking and three smoking behavior outcomes (lifetime smoking, past 30-day smoking, and daily smoking) were assessed. Changes in smoking, including progression from lower stages to higher stages and regression from higher stages to lower stages, over a one-year period, were defined longitudinally. Polychotomous logistic regression was used to examine associations between cognitive attributions for smoking and changes in smoking status over one year, adjusting for demographic characteristics and other plausible confounders.

Seven out of eight cognitive attributions for smoking were associated with subsequent smoking behaviors (p < 0.05). Curiosity, autonomy, social image, social belonging, and coping influenced earlier stages of smoking, whereas mental enhancement and engagement influenced later stages of smoking. Curiosity, autonomy, social image, and mental enhancement preceded smoking progression; social belonging prevented smoking regression; and coping and engagement both preceded smoking progression and prevented smoking regression.

This study demonstrates that different cognitive attributions influence smoking at different stages in different ways. These findings could inform smoking prevention and cessation programs targeting Chinese adolescents.

Rights Information

© 2016 Elsevier B.V.