Perceived Social Acceptability and Longitudinal Trends in Adolescent Cigarette Smoking
The current study uses methods from social network analysis to predict longitudinal trends in adolescent cigarette smoking based on perceived social acceptability from friends, in addition to typical measures of peer influence (e.g., self-reported cigarette use of friends). By concurrently investigating the role of perceived social acceptability of smoking and peer influence, the current study offers new insight into the mechanisms through which peers influence adolescent smoking. Two waves of data from five high schools within one US school district (n = 1563) were used. Stochastic actor-based models simultaneously estimated changes in smoking predicted by perceived social acceptability and peer influence. Findings demonstrate that adolescents with higher perceived social acceptability of cigarette use increased cigarette smoking over time. Conversely, support for peer influence on smoking was not found after controlling for the effects of perceived social acceptability. The results suggest that perceived social acceptability regarding cigarette smoking rather than self-report of cigarette use among friends is predictive of future smoking behavior. Consequently, the findings highlight the need for prevention efforts to take into account the multifaceted dynamics between adolescent smoking and friendships. Programs that address peer influence alone, without considering peer mechanisms such as perceived social acceptability, are at risk of ignoring critical avenues for prevention.
KeywordsSocial networks Smoking Perceived social acceptability
This study was supported by NIH Grant RC1AA019239 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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