Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, 37:46

First online:

The Effects of Warning Smokers on Perceived Risk, Worry, and Motivation to Quit

  • Renee E. MagnanAffiliated withNorth Dakota State UniversityDepartment of Psychology, 1 University of New Mexico Email author 
  • , Amber R. KöblitzAffiliated withNorth Dakota State University
  • , Desiree J. ZielkeAffiliated withNorth Dakota State University
  • , Kevin D. McCaulAffiliated withNorth Dakota State University

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Research concerning motives for smoking cessation has focused on beliefs (cognitions) that people have, especially risk perceptions, with less attention directed to worry (negative affect) concerning one’s smoking.


We tested a manipulation to encourage smokers to think and worry more about their smoking behavior. We contrasted risk perceptions and worry as predictors of contemplation to quit smoking.


Smokers were randomly assigned to two conditions in which they carried personal digital assistants for 2 weeks. When signaled, smokers read smoking consequence statements or daily hassle statements.


After 2 weeks, experimental smokers reported greater perceived risk and worry about developing a medical condition compared to control smokers. Both perceived risk and worry independently mediated the relationship between the experimental manipulation and increased contemplation to quit smoking; however, worry was the strongest mediator in a multiple mediation model.


Worry may be foremost for motivating smokers to attempt quitting.


Smoking Smokers Motivation to quit Worry about smoking Perceived risk