Risk perception and moralization among smokers in the USA and Denmark: a qualitative approach

Br J Health Psychol. 2010 Nov;15(Pt 4):871-86. doi: 10.1348/135910710X490415. Epub 2010 Feb 23.


Objectives: The present research explored the role that culture plays in smokers' description of their risk perceptions and experiences as targets of moralization.

Methods: We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 15 smokers each from Denmark (a smoking-lenient culture) and the USA (a smoking-prohibitive culture).

Results: Smokers said they were well aware of the risks of smoking yet minimized the risks of active and passive smoking; Danes were particularly likely to minimize these risks. Smokers also described many experiences as targets of moralization and accepted some elements of moralized attitudes although overall Danes more strongly rejected moralized opinions. Smokers described adjusting to moralization by changing when and where but not how much they smoked.

Conclusion: It is important to consider cultural influences on moralization and risk perception of smoking.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • United States