Effects of a body image challenge on smoking motivation among college females

Health Psychol. 2008 May;27(3S):S243-51. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.3(suppl.).s243.


Objective: Previous correlational and quasi-experimental research has established that weight concerns and negative body image are associated with tobacco smoking, cessation, and relapse, particularly among young women. This study examined the causal influence of body image upon smoking motivation by merging methodologies from the addiction and body image literatures.

Design: Using a cue-reactivity paradigm, the study tested whether an experimental manipulation designed to challenge women's body image-specifically, their weight dissatisfaction-influenced their motivation to smoke. Female college smokers (N= 62) were included in a 2 X 2 factorial, within-subjects design (body image cues X smoking cues).

Main outcome measures: Self-reported urge to smoke was the primary dependent measure, with skin conductance as a secondary measure.

Results: As hypothesized, the presentation of smoking images and thin model images produced greater urges to smoke than control images. Additionally, trait weight concerns moderated the effect of the body image manipulation such that those women with greater weight concerns produced greater craving to the thin model image (when smoking cues were not present).

Conclusion: These findings provide initial evidence that situational challenges to body image are causally related to smoking motivation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • United States