Presumed influence on peer norms: How mass media indirectly affect adolescent smoking

Albert C. Gunther, Daniel Bolt, Dina L.G. Borzekowski, Janice L. Liebhart, James Price Dillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


In the context of adolescent smoking adoption, this study examined the presumed influence hypothesis, a theoretical model suggesting that smoking-related media content may have a significant indirect influence on adolescent smoking via its effect on perceived peer norms. That is, adolescents may assume that smoking-related messages in the mass media will influence the attitudes and behaviors of their peers and these perceptions in turn can influence adolescents' own smoking behaviors. Analyzing data from a sample of 818 middle school students, we found that both pro- and antismoking messages indirectly influenced smoking susceptibility through their perceived effect on peers. However, this indirect effect was significantly stronger for prosmoking messages than for antismoking messages, an outcome that most likely increases adolescents' susceptibility to cigarettes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-68
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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