Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Paul Jacobsen, Ph.D.

Keywords

Skin cancer, Prevention, Cognitive dissonance, Sun protection, Clinical trial

Abstract

Sun exposure is implicated in the majority of skin cancer cases so it is important to identify interventions that successfully decrease young people's tanning behaviors and increase their sun protection behaviors. Research suggests that interventions that focus on the more immediate appearance related effects of tanning, rather than on future health risks, may be more effective in altering UV-related behaviors. Dissonance induction is a strategy that has been used to successfully alter other health-related behaviors. This study sought to determine if a dissonance induction intervention might be similarly successful in changing UV-related behaviors. The study yielded mixed findings. Relative to a healthy lifestyle control condition, the tanning condition resulted in a decrease in intentions to tan indoors and in actual number of hours spent sunbathing. The tanning condition also resulted in an increase in intentions to use sunscreen on the body. However, compared to a psycho-educational control condition, both groups seemed to have been equally successful and unsuccessful on different measures of UV-related behaviors and intentions. The findings of this study suggest that a dissonance induction intervention for tanning may be successful, but that it requires further study. Despite the mixed findings, this study serves as an important step in the search for successful interventions for decreasing tanning behaviors and increasing sun-protection behaviors.

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