The unique roles of intrapersonal and social factors in adolescent smoking development


Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the initiation and peak of many harmful risk-taking behaviors such as smoking, which is among the most addictive and deadliest behaviors. Generic metatheories like the theory of triadic influence (TTI) suggest that interrelated risk factors across multiple domains (i.e., intrapersonal and social/environmental) jointly contribute to adolescent smoking behavior. Yet, studies are lacking that investigate risk factors across different domains in the same study, which obscures whether each makes a unique contribution to the increase in smoking throughout adolescence or whether there is overlap across the domains. Hence, to fill this gap using a latent growth approach, the current accelerated longitudinal study investigated the collective contribution of multiple intrapersonal and social risk factors in the development of smoking behavior from ages 12 to 17 in 574 ethnically diverse Dutch adolescents. Results from the latent growth model showed that whereas the contribution of motivational-intrapersonal factors like sensation-seeking was no longer significant in the stringent multivariate model, higher levels of impulsivity (cognitive-intrapersonal) and overt peer pressure (social) at age 12 proved to be robust and unique predictors of linear increases in adolescent smoking up until age 17. Consistent with the TTI, adolescent smoking progression does not occur in isolation and the determinants are wide-ranging as they stem from both intrapersonal and social domains. Thus focusing on such confluence of intrapersonal and social risk factors via prevention programs from as young as age 12 might halt the deadly increase in smoking behavior throughout adolescence.

Developmental Psychology, 52, 2044-2056