Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 493–506 | Cite as

Anger as a Moderator of Safer Sex Motivation Among Low-Income Urban Women


Theoretical models suggest that both HIV knowledge and HIV risk perception inform rational decision making and, thus, predict safer sex motivation and behavior. However, the amount of variance explained by knowledge and risk perception is typically small. In this cross-sectional study, we investigated whether the predictive power of HIV knowledge and HIV risk perception on safer sex motivation is affected by trait anger. We hypothesized that anger may disrupt rational decision making, distorting the effects of both HIV knowledge and risk perception on safer sex intentions. Data from 232 low-income, urban women at risk for HIV infection were used to test a path model with past sexual risk behavior, HIV knowledge, and HIV risk perception as predictors of safer sex intentions. Moderator effects of anger on safer sex intentions were tested by simultaneous group comparisons between high-anger and low-anger women (median split). The theoretically expected “rational pattern” was found among low-anger women only, including (a) a positive effect of knowledge on safer sex intentions, and (b) buffer (inhibitor) effects of HIV knowledge and HIV risk perception on the negative path leading from past risk behavior to safer sex intentions. Among high-anger women, an “irrational pattern” emerged, with no effects of HIV knowledge and negative effects of both past risk behavior and HIV risk perception on safer sex intentions. In sum, the results suggest that rational knowledge- and risk-based decisions regarding safer sex may be limited to low-anger women.


HIV knowledge anger safer sex intention risk perception 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityUtahUSA
  2. 2.Center for Health and BehaviorSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityLoganUtahUSA

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