Cognitive Attributions for Smoking Among Adolescents in China

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Cognition and Perception | Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


To design more effective health communication messages for smoking cessation and prevention, it is important to understand people's own perceptions of the factors that influence their decisions to smoke. Studies have examined cognitive attributions for smoking in Western countries but not in the Chinese cultural context. In a study of 14,434 Chinese adolescents, exploratory factor analysis grouped 17 cognitive attributions into 8 factors: curiosity, coping, social image, social belonging, engagement, autonomy, mental enhancement, and weight control. The factors were ranked based on the participants' self-reports of importance and by the strength of their associations with smoking behavior. Among all smokers, curiosity was the most frequently-ranked attribution factor at the early stages of smoking but not for daily smoking. Coping was highly-ranked across smoking stages. Social image and social belonging were more highly-ranked at earlier stages, whereas engagement and mental enhancement were ranked more highly at later stages of smoking. More attributions were associated with smoking among males than among females. This information could be useful for the development of evidence-based anti-smoking programs in China.

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© 2010 Elsevier Ltd.