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Smoking and peer groups: Results from a longitudinal qualitative study of young people in Northern Ireland

Stewart-Knox, Barbara J., Sittlington, J, Rugkasa, J, Harrisson, S, Treacy, M and Abaunza, PS (2005) Smoking and peer groups: Results from a longitudinal qualitative study of young people in Northern Ireland. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 44 (Part 3). pp. 397-414. [Journal article]

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DOI: 10.1348/014466604X18073


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 negotiated differently for boys and girls. These findings imply that successful intervention needs to reconsider the normative processes that encourage young people to smoke.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Biomedical Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Biomedical Sciences Research Institute > Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)
Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
ID Code:11397
Deposited By: Dr Barbara Stewart-Knox
Deposited On:04 Feb 2010 16:04
Last Modified:12 Mar 2013 16:02

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