Adolescents' perceptions of helmet-wearing peers

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Keri Brown Kirschman


Bicycling is a common form of recreation for adolescents. Despite injury risk, adolescent helmet use rates are very low (e.g. 5%-20%). The purpose of this study was to examine adolescent attitudes toward helmet use among hypothetical peers. Participants were 40 adolescent boys aged 10-14; 60% of participants reported never" or "rarely" wearing a helmet. Youth were presented with a series of three photographs of same-age, same-sex peers riding bicycles with or without helmets. Attitudes towards the hypothetical peers were measured using the Photograph Reaction Questionnaire (PRQ) and the Revised Adjective Checklist (RAC). Analysis of the RAC revealed that peers used more positive adjectives to describe helmet-wearing peers than peers without helmets t(39) = 2.60, p = .01. Self-reported helmet use was significantly correlated with friends' use (r=.65, p<.01) and parents' required use (r=.63, p<.01). Adolescents reported more positive perceptions of hypothetical peers who wore helmets than peers who were featured without helmets. Future studies should attempt to explore the link between peer pressure and helmet-use behavior."


Bicycle helmets, Safety hats, Peer pressure in children, Peer pressure in adolescence

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2010, author