Title

The relationship of self-esteem maintenance to susceptibility beliefs concerning preventable health hazards

Abstract

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.

Notes

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Graduation Date

1992

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Sheridan, Kathleen

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Format

Print

Language

English

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Identifier

DP0022756

Subjects

Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences

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