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Title: Modifying optimism bias in smokers by preventing downward social comparisons and selective focus on risk reducing behaviours
Author: Lambourne, Judith
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 9706
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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Introduction: Rogers' (1983) Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) suggests that providing information about the health risks of smoking should increase perceived vulnerability and intention to quit, but despite numerous health campaigns, a significant number of people continue smoking. This may be due to the tendency of smokers to rate themselves as less vulnerable to smoking-related health problems than the average smoker. This study drew on theories of optimism bias to create individualised risk and myth debunking interventions aimed at decreasing optimism bias, and increasing perceived vulnerability and intention to quit. Method: An experimental design with four between-subject factors was used. Participants were 53 adults, recruited via convenience sampling. All participants were given a baseline questionnaire, gathering socioeconomic data, and information about preintervention psychological status. Participants were then given one of four types of information about smoking (general risk, myth debunking, individual risk, or combined myth debunking and individual risk) before completing measures of optimism bias and PMT constructs. Results: Individualised risk information and myth debunking information alone did not decrease optimism bias, or increase perceived vulnerability and intention to quit. However, a combination of individual risk and myth debunking information led to increased perceived vulnerability and intention to quit. Perceived vulnerability and response efficacy were found to be significant predictors of intention to quit, while self-efficacy predicted likelihood of quitting. Discussion: The main finding of this study was that combined individualised and myth debunking information about smoking led to increased perceived vulnerability and greater intention to quit smoking. Further research should investigate how these findings translate to individuals from other backgrounds, and the effectiveness of using such an intervention within a primary care setting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available