Predicting smoking behavior: intention and future self-continuity among Austrians

Psychol Health Med. 2022 Jun;27(5):1042-1051. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2020.1842898. Epub 2020 Nov 4.


Smoking is a major public health problem in Austria, but relevant research and intervention is limited. Based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the present study aimed to test the model utility in an Austrian sample. As future self-continuity is likely to impact on health behavior, we also hypothesized an extended TPB with future self-continuity could further explain the variance in smoking. Using a prospective design, 94 current smokers (74.5% women; Mage = 24.27 years; 61.7% daily smokers) from a university in South Austria completed the baseline and follow-up survey (one month after the baseline). Consistent with the TPB, intention and perceived behavioral control (PBC) significantly predicted smoking behavior; affective attitude and PBC were significantly associated with smoking intention. In contrast, cognitive attitude and subjective norm were unrelated to smoking intention. As hypothesized, the TPB explained 42% variance of smoking behavior and 31% variance of smoking intention. Participants' future self-continuity further explained the variance of smoking behavior. Our study demonstrates the utility of the TPB in understanding Austrian smoking behavior. The role of psychological perception of future self among smokers has been highlighted. Future smoking intervention may target PBC, affective attitude, as well as a life-span perspective.

Keywords: Smoking; Theory of Planned Behavior; affective attitude; future self-continuity; perceived behavioral control.