Two experiments explored the possibility that specific health risks observed among young women may be influenced by attractiveness-enhancement goals associated with mating. Study 1 (n = 257) demonstrated that priming women with intersexual courtship and intrasexual competition increased their willingness to go tanning and take dangerous diet pills. Study 2 (n = 148) conceptually replicated these results and revealed that increased willingness to take these risks is mediated by diminished feelings of vulnerability to the negative health effects associated with these behaviors when mating goals are salient. Findings provide evidence that mating goals play a role in the continued popularity of these dangerous behaviors in women. Furthermore, the current results bridge the existing gap between health belief and self-presentational models of risk behaviors to yield novel insights into the psychology of risk taking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Health behaviors
- Mate competition
- Risk taking