A video game that showed social smokers what they might look like after 20 years of smoking was developed by an assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).
The smokers who viewed their own future face affected by the negative consequences of smoking in the video game had more negative attitudes toward social smoking and were more interested in quitting than those who didn't see what the future would look like, according to Hayeon Song's study.
The research grew out of Song's ongoing interests in computers and human behavior, particularly health habits.
She said that her research area is using virtual reality to change real-life behaviors.
Changing attitudes among young people is particularly challenging, she said, because talking to them about future health problems doesn't have an impact - even though national figures identify smoking as the leading cause of preventable health problems in the US.
The research is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.