Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Antonia Abbey


Research on social influence has indicated that role models can motivate individuals to change their behaviors and strive for success in the domains of education, occupation, and health. Positive and negative role models have been shown as effective agents of social influence through different mechanisms. Although public health advocates argue that role models can influence smoking cessation, systematic research has yet to investigate the effects of social influence on quitting smoking. The present study investigated the effects of role model influence on smoking cessation. Participants read a story about one of four role models: positive health, negative health, positive social, and negative social role model. Participants then immediately reported willingness to reduce or cease smoking behaviors. These questions were repeated two weeks later. It was found that negative role models were more effective than positive role models in motivating individuals to stop smoking. The study shows important implications for future investigations examining social influence on health-relevant behaviors such that negative role models may be most effective at motivating young adults to reduce or refrain from negative health behaviors associated with detrimental outcomes.

Included in

Psychology Commons