Curiosity predicts smoking experimentation independent of susceptibility in a US national sample

Addict Behav. 2014 Dec;39(12):1695-700. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jun 18.


Purpose: To improve smoking prevention efforts, better methods for identifying at-risk youth are needed. The widely used measure of susceptibility to smoking identifies at-risk adolescents; however, it correctly identifies only about one third of future smokers. Adding curiosity about smoking to this susceptibility index may allow us to identify a greater proportion of future smokers while they are still pre-teens.

Methods: We use longitudinal data from a recent national study on parenting to prevent problem behaviors. Only oldest children between 10 and 13years of age were eligible. Participants were identified by RDD survey and followed for 6years. All baseline never smokers with at least one follow-up assessment were included (n=878). The association of curiosity about smoking with future smoking behavior was assessed. Then, curiosity was added to form an enhanced susceptibility index and sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value were calculated.

Results: Among committed never smokers at baseline, those who were 'definitely not curious' were less likely to progress toward smoking than both those who were 'probably not curious' (ORadj=1.89; 95% CI=1.03-3.47) or 'probably/definitely curious' (ORadj=2.88; 95% CI=1.11-7.45). Incorporating curiosity into the susceptibility index increased the proportion identified as at-risk to smoke from 25.1% to 46.9%. The sensitivity (true positives) for this enhanced susceptibility index for both experimentation and established smoking increased from 37-40% to over 50%, although the positive predictive value did not improve.

Conclusion: The addition of curiosity significantly improves the identification and classification of which adolescents will experiment with smoking or become established smokers.

Keywords: Adolescent smoking; Curiosity; Smoking experimentation; Susceptibility to smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology