Suntanning and sun protection: a review of the psychological literature

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Jan;40(2):265-74. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)e0063-x.


Excessive sun exposure has been linked to skin cancer and to premature aging, drying and wrinkling of the skin, predominantly among Caucasians. This review examines the psychological literature on suntanning and sun protection behaviours among Caucasians. The research is examined in relation to: methods of study; attitude and normative beliefs towards suntanning and sun protection; differences in suntanning and sun protection knowledge and behaviour as a function of age and sun protection; differences to change sun related behaviours. A consistent finding across studies is that many people show a high level of knowledge of the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the need for sun protection, however, this knowledge often does not transfer into behaviour, with many people, particularly adolescents, still desiring and actively seeking a suntan. The implications of these findings for intervention studies are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Beauty*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*