Explanations for Smoking

Biological, social and cognitive + evaluations

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Biological

Initiation:

Genetic vulnerability: Sheilds (1962) twin study found high concordance for smoking.

Sensitivity of dopamine receptors: nicotine increases dopamine.

Maintenance:

Activation of dopamine reward pathways: body stops producing as much nicotine because it expects nicotine, so nicotine is needed to maintain normal dopamine levels

Avoid withdrawal effects caused by the physical addiction

Relapse:

Physical craving and withdrawal symptoms make relapse likely

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Learning Model

Initiation:

Modelling and vicarious reinforcement through parents and peers

Positive reinforcement from peers eg. attention

Direct reinforcement from effects eg. weight loss, reduced stress

Maintenance:

Reinforcement from social group

Negative reinforcement - avoiding withdrawal

Relapse:

Exposure to cues classically conditioned to smoking, eg. after a meal

Negative reinforcment - seeking removal of withdrawal effects

Directly punished by increased stress and weight gain etc

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Learning Model - Research

2x likely to smoke if parents do. 7x less likely to smoke if parents are anti-smoking.

Michell and West (1996) showed that peer pressure is complex and teenagers may not be so susceptible to it as once thought.

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Cognitive

Initiation:

Expectancies of positive effects

Negative effects minimised by high self-efficacy "I can control my smoking"

Maintenance:

Beleif in positive aspects

Expectencies of withdrawal symptoms

High self-efficacy "I can give up any time"

Relapse:

Percieved negative consequences

High self-efficacy

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Cognitive - Research

A study researching reasons for 11-12 year olds starting to smoke found that their behavioural intentions were a good predictor of subsequent smoking behaviour.

Cognitive factors may be key in developing anti-smoking campaigns.

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Overall Commentary

Interaction of all three approaches is probably best for explaining smoking addiction.

Smoking is seen as a social habbit so social factors are as key as biological factors.

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