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Open Access Publications from the University of California


  • Author(s): EMORY, JASON
  • Advisor(s): Song, Anna V
  • et al.

Despite widespread knowledge as to the dangers associated with smoking behavior, 20% of the United States population continues to smoke (Center for disease control, 2011). Novel intervention techniques need to be developed for those who continue to smoke despite awareness of the associated health risks. This dissertation explores the possibility that implicit cognitions that occur automatically and outside of conscious awareness might be specifically targeted for the purpose of behavior change. Two research questions (RQ) have guided the theory and methodology used in these two studies: RQ 1) can smoking related implicit attitudes be delineated into subdomains that mirror domains of explicit smoking attitudes?, & RQ 2) can interventions that tap into smoking related implicit associations produce changes in implicit and explicit attitudes? Study 1 assessed multiple implicit measures of cognition, each designed to tap into a unique domain of implicit smoking attitudes. The results of a factor analysis conducted on the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995) in study 1 suggest that all four IATs tap into the same basic construct. Thus the answer to RQ 1 appears to be negative: smoking related implicit attitudes cannot be delineated into distinct domains. Study 2 assesses a novel interactive intervention that utilizes implicit methods of message delivery in hopes of impacting implicit and explicit smoking attitudes. The results of this study suggest that explicit, but not implicit, attitude change occurred, providing partial support for RQ 2. Additional research in the area of implicit cognition of smoking behavior is necessary to build upon these findings and explore the plausibility of an implicit intervention as a means to help reduce smoking behavior. Future directions and implications for policy are discussed.

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