Background:It has frequently been suggested that adolescents are more likely to start smoking when they hold favorable social images or prototypes of smoking peers. Although empirical evidence supports the role of smoker prototypes in predicting smoking, little is known about the relative contribution of smoker prototypes, in comparison to more well-established social cognitive factors. Therefore, the present study investigated the relative impact of smoker prototypes, in comparison to factors of the theory of planned behavior, in predicting smoking among adolescents. Methods: A three-wave prospective study was conducted among 612 Dutch 8th grade students (aged 12–13 years). Questionnaires were administered and adolescents were followed during one year. Results: The results indicate that smoker prototypes are predictive of adolescent smoking behavior. Adolescents who believe that smoking peers are sociable more frequently engage in smoking behavior. Moreover, adolescents who hold the image that smoking peers are rebellious are less inclined to engage in smoking. These prototype factors predict a significant proportion of variance in smoking status, over and above the components of the theory of planned behavior. Conclusion: The findings of the present study are interesting because they suggest that intervening on the level of smoker prototypes may contribute to the effectiveness of current programs aiming at the prevention of adolescents’ smoking behavior.
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