The relationship of self-esteem maintenance to susceptibility beliefs concerning preventable health hazards
In various health areas, the importance of personal perceptions of susceptibility to harm has been established as a fundamental predictor of preventative behaviors. Research has demonstrated that people maintain a high degree of optimism about avoiding harm regardless of the information with which they are presented and regardless whether or not their behavior places them at risk. This phenomenon has been termed "unrealistic optimism."
In the present study, subjects were asked to rate health hazards on a variety of dimensions including seriousness, preventability, worry, experience with the hazard and perception of risk relative to peers. Instruments were administered to assess individual differences in risk behavior, self-esteem and trait anxiety. Subjects demonstrated an optimistic bias about avoiding a wide variety of health hazards and the degree of optimistic bias was related to worry, past experience and perceived preventability of the hazard. Support was found for the hypothesis that maintenance of self-esteem is an important factor in the phenomenon of "unrealistic optimism" concerning preventable health hazards. This study also investigated attitudes regarding HIV disease as compared to other sexually transmitted diseases.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences
Giffen, David L., "The relationship of self-esteem maintenance to susceptibility beliefs concerning preventable health hazards" (1992). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 4417.