Children's and adolescents' perceptions of smokers
Schwarz, Barbara Talansky
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The influence of 11 personality, demographic, and attitude characteristics on children's and adolescents' perceptions of smokers was studied. One hundred and forty nine public school students age 9-to-10, 12-to-13, and 16-to-17 years old served as subjects. The study contained three hypotheses. First, it was expected that as a group children and adolescents would show an unfavorable perception of smokers. Second, it was expected that young people who showed a favorable perception of smokers would be differentiated from those with an unfavorable perception of smokers on the basis of personality, demographic, and attitude characteristics examined. Third, it was expected that the characteristics which influenced a favorable perception of smokers would be different for boys and girls and for subjects of different ages. Results of the study were expected to facilitate the development of more effective smoking-prevention programs for youths.;Children's and adolescents' perceptions of smokers were measured by the difference between ratings of a model in a smoking and nonsmoking pose. Two male and two female models, each depicted in a smoking and nonsmoking pose, were rated across six personality attributes. Factors examined were those which had been found in previous research to influence young people's smoking behavior. Pearson correlations, analyses of variance, or chi-square analyses were performed, to determine the influence of each factor on young people's perceptions of smokers.;Regardless of sex and age, children and adolescents showed an almost consistently unfavorable perception of smokers. None of the factors studied exerted a major influence on young people's perceptions of smokers. Three factors exerted some influence on perceptions of smokers: Extraversion, age, and sibling/household member smoking behavior. Results for each factor were not in the predicted direction. Speculations about the meanings of these findings, and suggestions for future research are discussed.