Advertisement

Journal of Gender, Culture and Health

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 307–313 | Cite as

Reconsidering Unique Invulnerability in the Context of Sexual Behavior

  • Angela F. Dew
  • Tracy B. Henley
Article

Abstract

Unique invulnerability has been defined as the perception that one is less vulnerable than the average person to negative events. This study examined positive outcomes of risky behaviors with respect to unique invulnerability, taking into consideration an individual's knowledge and experience of a given risk. If the phenomenon is truly one of unique invulnerability, then we would predict either no self–other differences for positive outcomes or even an enhanced belief that more desirable outcomes would happen to oneself. We found quite the opposite. Subjects estimated that they would be less likely than others to experiencebothpositive and negative outcomes. These findings invite not only a reconsideration of unique invulnerability, but also provide important new information about risk perception within a sexual context.

unique invulnerability risk perception risky behaviors safe sex sexual knowledge 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Burger, J. M., & Burns, L. (1989). The illusion of unique invulnerability and the use of effective contraception. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14, 264–270.Google Scholar
  2. Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., & Bushman, B.J. (1996). Relation between perceived vulnerability to HIV and precautionary sexual behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 390–409.Google Scholar
  3. Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., & Warner, T. D. (1991). Effects of reviewing risk-relevant behavior on perceived vulnerability among women Marines. Health Psychology, 10, 173–179.Google Scholar
  4. Gerrard, M., & Warner, T. D. (1995). Comparison of Marine and college women's HIV/AIDS-relevant sexual behaviors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 959–980.Google Scholar
  5. Gibbons, F. X. (1993). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  6. Klar, Y., Medding, A., & Sarel, D. (1996). Nonunique invulernability: Singular versus distributional probabilities and unrealistic optimism in comparative risk judgements. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67, 229–245.Google Scholar
  7. Kunkel, J. H. (1991). Apathy and irresponsibility in social systems. In P. A. Lamal (Ed.), Behavioral analysis of societies and cultural practices (pp. 219–247). New York: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  8. Matthews, M. L., & Moran, A. R. (1986). Age differences in male drivers' perception of accident risk: The role of perceived driving ability. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 18, 229–313.Google Scholar
  9. Moore, S., & Rosenthal, D. (1991). Adolescent invulnerability and perception of AIDS risk. Journal of Adolescent Research, 6, 164–180.Google Scholar
  10. Perloff, L., & Fetzer, B. (1986). Self-other judgments and perceived vulnerability to victimization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 502–510.Google Scholar
  11. Snyder, C. R. (1997). Unique invulnerability: A classroom demonstration in estimating personal mortality. Teaching of Psychology, 24, 197–199.Google Scholar
  12. Weinstein, N. (1980). Unrealistic optimism about future life events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 806–820.Google Scholar
  13. Whitley, B. E., Jr., & Hern, A. L. (1991). Perception of vulnerability to pregnancy and the use of effective contraception. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 104–110.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela F. Dew
    • 1
  • Tracy B. Henley
    • 2
  1. 1.Conexant SystemsNewport Beach
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMississippi State UniversityMississippi State

Personalised recommendations