Smoking motivation in the face of stigmatization: A Bourdieusian analysis of impressions.

Earlier research from Western countries has indicated that individuals with low socioeconomic status (SES) initiate tobacco smoking even though smoking is a stigmatized practice. We propose that theoretical developments of Bourdieu’s theories on capital can reveal a plausible mechanism that explains smoking motivation in the face of stigmatization, and we perform a double-blind randomized controlled experiment with the impressions of a smoking adolescent girl to test and elaborate on our proposition. The empirical data was collected through questionnaires distributed to 622 Swedish adolescents during the fall of 2015. Half the questionnaires included a picture of a smoking girl and half the questionnaires included an identical picture without the act of smoking. Binary logistic regressions indicate that the girl in the picture was perceived as significantly less likable, more popular, less kind, less compassionate, more deceitful, more conceited, and more liable to bully when she smoked a cigarette than when she did not smoke. The theoretical analysis implies that adolescents with low SES may seek to smoke in the face of stigmatization because of a motivating mechanism that functions in accordance with Bourdieu’s economic logic of action. The concluding section presents implications for tobacco-control policies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)