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What is the role of impression management in adolescent cigarette smoking?

PURPOSE: This study examined the role of impression management in cigarette smoking by linking the constructs of self-monitoring, perceived success in impression management, self-esteem and social anxiety among nonsmokers (NS), occasional smokers (OS), and frequent smokers (FS).

METHODS: High school students (N=243) in years 8-12 completed a questionnaire assessing the above-mentioned variables. Multivariate discriminant function analysis and a priori contrasts were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS: In comparison to OS, FS and NS had the lowest levels of self-monitoring, perceived success in impression management and self-esteem, while having the highest levels of social anxiety.

IMPLICATIONS: Cigarette use may serve an impression management function during adolescence and subsequently influences OS' level of smoking. Intervention programs need to give greater consideration to providing adolescents with alternative strategies for both social acceptance and the acquisition and maintenance of self-esteem.

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