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Fact or Wishful Thinking? Biased Expectations in I Think I Look Better When I'm Tanned

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Objective : To examine the impact of tanned female images on respondents' perceptions of attractiveness, healthiness, and height and weight estimations.

Method : A 3 (light, medium, or dark tan) by 2 (male or female respondent) experimental design.

Results : Only male respondents perceived the dark-tanned woman as more physically attractive and thinner than both light- and medium-tanned women. Men also perceived the dark-tanned woman as more interpersonally attractive and healthier than the medium-tanned woman.

Conclusions : Campaigns targeted at males need to reduce the perceptions that tanned females are healthier, thinner, and more attractive. Educational efforts targeting females need to reduce attraction-based motivations.

Keywords: Indoor tanning; perceptions of tanning; skin cancer; tanning bed use

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Research Affiliate, Communication and Health Issues Partnership for Education and Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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