The Effect of Parental Smoking on Preadolescents’ Implicit and Explicit Perceptions of Smoking-Related Cues


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Abstract

Children of smokers are significantly more likely to experiment with cigarettes and become habitual smokers than children of nonsmokers. The current study examined the effect of parental smoking on children’s implicit and explicit responses toward smoking behavior and smoking-related cues with the goal of identifying potential mechanisms for this relationship. A sample of 8–12-year-old children of smokers (n = 57) and children of nonsmokers (n = 86) completed a dot probe task to assess implicit attentional bias toward smoking cues and the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) to assess implicit affective responses to smoking cues. In addition, children indicated their explicit perceptions of smokers and smoking behavior. Results demonstrated that children of smokers showed more sustained implicit attentional bias toward pictures of smoking stimuli presented alone than children of nonsmokers. Overall, participants showed negative implicit affective responses to smoking stimuli regardless of parental smoking. Children of smokers indicated that smokers would experience fewer negative consequences than children of nonsmokers; these relationships were moderated by age. Together, our findings suggest that parental smoking affects the ways that preadolescent children implicitly process smoking cues and their perceptions about smoking and its consequences. These findings help us understand the environmental mechanisms associated with smoking behavior in this vulnerable population.

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