Understanding children's injury-risk behavior: Wearing safety gear can
lead to increased risk taking
Barbara A. Morrongiello, Beverly Walpole and Jennifer
(all from Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, MacKinnon Building,
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1)
Accident Analysis and Prevention - Received 12 July 2006; revised 26 September 2006; accepted 9
October 2006. Available online 16 November 2006.
The present study examined
whether school-age children show risk compensation and engage in greater
risk taking when wearing safety gear compared to when not doing so when running
an obstacle course containing hazards that could lead to physical injury.
Because sensation seeking has been shown to influence risk taking, this child
attribute was also assessed and related to risk compensation. Children 7–12
years of age were videotaped navigating the obstacle course twice, once wearing
safety gear and once without safety gear, with reverse directions used to
minimize possible practice effects. The time it took the child to run through
the course and the number of reckless behaviors (e.g., falls, trips, bumping
into things) that the child made while running the course were compared for the
gear and no-gear conditions. Results indicated that children went
more quickly and behaved more recklessly when wearing safety gear than when not
wearing gear, providing evidence of risk compensation. Moreover, those high in
sensation seeking showed greater risk compensation compared with other
children. Implications for childhood injury prevention are discussed.
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