Examination of Cognitive Variables Relevant to Sunbathing

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This study examined cognitions relevant to sunbathing decision-making in college-aged subjects. Using Jaccard's (1981) theory of alternative behavior as a guiding model, 263 subjects were recruited from psychology classes and administered questionnaires assessing their sunbathing behavioral tendencies, attitudes toward sunbathing, attitudes toward reasonable behavioral alternatives to sunbathing, and cognitive variables underlying these attitudinal variables. The fits of models predicting sunbathing attitudes and sunbathing behavioral tendencies (evaluated using covariate structural equations modeling techniques; LISREL VIII) were good for all models tested. In contrast to previous work, the results of this study support the notion that young people will make their decisions regarding sunbathing based on the behavioral alternatives available to them (i.e., generally the one that they prefer most). Furthermore, the multivariate approach used clearly delineates the specific cognitive beliefs and orientations that might be targeted to change these attitudes. The relevance of these findings to skin cancer prevention interventions is discussed.