The mediating role of time perspective in socio-economic inequalities in
Jean Adams,1* Martin White,1 Cam Donaldson1 & Joanna Semlyen2
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH
Department of Psychology, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V 4DB
*Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org; 0191 222 8124
Socio-economic inequalities in smoking play an important role in overall inequalities in
health. Time perspective describes how individuals value future events and the effect
this has on their present day behaviour. As predicted by the Theory of Rational
Addiction, time perspective is cross-sectionally associated with smoking status – non-
smokers and ex-smokers tend to value the future more than smokers. Time
perspective is also associated with socio-economic position (SEP) – more affluent
individuals tend to value the future more than less affluent ones. The mediating role of
time perspective in socio-economic inequalities in smoking has not been determined.
To explore the mediating role of time perspective in socio-economic inequalities in
2000 adults, randomly selected from the edited electoral role for Newcastle upon Tyne,
were sent a postal questionnaire in spring 2007. Two reminders were sent. SEP was
measured using educational attainment and Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. Time
perspective was measured using two inventories asking respondents to rate how like
them a number of statements were (the Consideration of Future Consequences Scale
and the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory), and a question on the time period
considered when planning saving and spending.
842 completed questionnaires were returned (42% response rate). If time perspective
plays a mediating role in socio-economic inequalities in smoking, statistically significant
associations between: SEP and smoking (more affluent less likely to smoke); SEP and
time perspective (more affluent value the future more); and time perspective and
smoking, after control for SEP (those who value the future more, less likely to smoke),
would be expected. Data analysis will be complete by September 2007.
If time perspective plays a mediating role in socio-economic inequalities in smoking,
altering time perspective may help decrease inequalities in smoking. Possible
interventions and implications for other health related behaviours will be discussed.