Warning: Smoking Makes You Unattractive

My wife called me this morning to alert me to this interesting story she heard on NPR. The NPR text:

Smoking can kill you and so can the warning labels on cigarettes. Psychologists did a small study of the effects of warning labels that mention death. Apparently a reminder of death makes you feel stress. You then want to do something comforting. Naturally, you reach for a cigarette. Researchers say they'd prefer warning labels that do not mention death such as: Smoking makes you unattractive.
I dug around and here's a summary of the research NPR highlighted. The study has to do with Terror Management Theory which I've written a great deal about on this blog.

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5 thoughts on “Warning: Smoking Makes You Unattractive”

  1. Or perhaps we ought to shift the "warning: smoking can kill" labels to boxes of chocolate and cups of coffee. That way you are near a comfort source when you have that twinge of death anxiety.


  2. right aimai:

    then we can put labels on cigarettes that say: "Chocolate makes you fat." :)

  3. Interestingly enough a lot of people smoke because it helps them keep their weight down, French Kevin, so I think the message is out on that one!


  4. Dr. Beck,
    My older brother is a sales rep for RJ Reynolds, and I tried to explain terror management theory (in my very, very limited knowledge) over Thanksgiving when he was discussing the UK government warnings propelling sales a bit.
    In the UK several years ago they started a campaign to decrease smoking and required tobacco companies to print things like SMOKING KILLS on the front of the packages. A little over a year ago, they added graphic images to the backs as well. The images can be found here, but look at your own risk. You might need a cigarette to relax afterwards. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/6968580.stm

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