ERIC Number: ED284121
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Mar
Throwing Caution to the Wind: Rationales for Risky Behavior.
de La Rue, Denise; Ruback, R. Barry
There appears to be a tendency for people who have not been victimized by negative life events to perceive themselves as less vulnerable to victimization than others. Research has revealed this unrealistic optimism in risk perception. A study on rationales for risky behaviors was conducted to identify reasons other than this illusion of invulnerability that individuals use when engaging in risky behavior. College students (N=79) completed a questionnaire containing 14 protective or threatening behaviors, each paired with an associated resulting negative life event. Subjects assessed behaviors and resulting events in terms of risk and seriousness, respectively, and the degree to which they believed others applied seven hypothesized rationales for risky behavior. Subjects rated unprotected sexual activity, intravenous drug use, and cocaine use as the most risky behaviors and acquired immune deficiency syndrome as the most serious result, although it was not rated significantly more serious than rape, lung cancer, or cocaine addiction. "It will never happen to me" received the highest rating among rationales. The findings suggest that, through a variety of means, risk-takers deny their at-risk role, and thereby do not accurately assess the potential results of their behaviors. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (33rd, Atlanta, GA, March 25-28, 1987). Appended table contains small print.