Predicting adolescent smoking: a prospective study of personality variables

Prev Med. 2000 Feb;30(2):115-25. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1999.0605.


Objective: We investigated how personality variables measured at 5th grade predict daily smoking in 12th grade.

Methods: A group of 3130 fifth graders was assessed for a propensity toward Rebelliousness, Risk Taking, Problem Helplessness, Affect Regulation, and Early Maturation and susceptibility to Peer Compliance and Peer Approval. Daily smoking status was determined for 94.7% of them 7 years later, in 12th grade.

Results: Rebelliousness and Risk Taking were the most significant predictors of smoking. There was no statistical evidence that the extent of prediction depended on gender or history of early smoking. No predictive evidence was seen for the other personality measures, including those describing susceptibility to peer influences.

Conclusions: These results show that propensity toward rebelliousness and risk taking in childhood predicts adolescent smoking. They suggest that smoking prevention programs would do well to address the needs and expectations of rebellious and risk-taking youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Social Conformity