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Stereotyping the smoker: adolescents’ appraisals of smokers in film


Objective: To assess the relation between demographic factors and film smoking stereotypes in adolescents and the potential influence of smoker stereotypes on smoking susceptibility.

Design: A cross sectional questionnaire survey of school students (n  =  3041) aged 12–13 and 16–17 years who were asked to describe the personal characteristics of female and male smokers in films.

Setting: 15 primary or intermediate schools and 10 secondary schools in Auckland, New Zealand.

Results: Appraisals of smokers in film were strongly influenced by age and sex with younger adolescents and males more likely to see female smokers as sexy, intelligent and healthy whereas older students and females more often appraised female smokers as stressed bored and depressed. Overall, image stereotypes (sexy, stylish) were more likely to be significantly associated with smoking susceptibility than emotional sensitivity stereotypes (stressed, depressed etc).

Conclusions: Adolescents differ significantly in their appraisal of smokers in films; however, image based stereotypes, rather than emotional sensitivity stereotypes, are significantly associated with smoking susceptibility.

  • adolescents
  • film imagery
  • stereotypes

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