Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Previous research has indicated that young people are under considerable social pressure to take up smoking. This study has therefore sought to explore and better understand the mechanisms through which peer-related social factors operate to encourage young people to smoke. Individual qualitative interviews were held with adolescent children aged 11-12 years (N = 102) within youth clubs based in economically deprived areas of Northern Ireland, and then followed up on two occasions during the subsequent 3 years (N = 51/39). The data implied that, although peers influence smoking uptake, this seldom happens through direct persuasion, but rather as the result of the young person striving to conform to the normative behaviour of the peer group with which they identify. The findings are consistent with social identity theory and self-categorization theory in that for both smoking and nonsmoking 14-year-olds smoking activity appears to provide a means through which to define social groups, to accentuate similarity within groups and differences between groups. In-group favouritism was expressed in the sharing of cigarettes within the in-group and in the negative stereotyping of out-group members. There was some evidence that group affiliation may be negoti ated differently for boys and girls. These findings imply that successful intervention needs to reconsider the normative processes that encourage young people to smoke. © 2005 The British Psychological Society.

Original publication

DOI

10.1348/014466604X18073

Type

Journal article

Journal

British Journal of Social Psychology

Publication Date

01/09/2005

Volume

44

Pages

397 - 414