Attitudes toward health risks and sunbathing behavior

J Psychol. 1996 Nov;130(6):669-77. doi: 10.1080/00223980.1996.9915040.


Sunbathing confers the benefits of looking and feeling good but presents the long-term risk of skin cancer. In a disguised experiment exploring attitudes toward sunbathing by British adults, participants were asked to rate their willingness to take a hypothetical new drug (with different levels of risk) that would make them look and feel good. One aspect of the resulting risk profiles was significantly related to a positive attitude to open-air sunbathing but not to sunbed use, possibly because it was erroneously thought that using a sunbed is not risky. The well-established finding that women are more cautious was confirmed; the risk function for men was curvilinear, in contrast to women, who were willing to increase their risk linearly over their lifetime.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Heliotherapy / adverse effects
  • Heliotherapy / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology*