Fear motivates sunscreen use, researchers say

Fear is a much bigger motivational factor when it comes to sunscreen use, and not the statistical data we are given.

Sometimes a little fear can go a long way in taking care of ourselves. When it comes to skin cancer, fear has been shown to be a big motivator when it comes to using sunscreen, according to researchers at the University of Buffalo.

As part of a nationwide study put forth by the National Cancer Institute, researchers looked at almost 1,500 participants with no genetic factors for skin cancer. They were asked about their use of sunscreen, as well as their concern about developing skin cancer.

The researchers discovered that worry was more directly associated with the influence of people’s use of sunscreen as opposed to information, with an increase in concern linked to an increase in use of sunscreen.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for almost half of all cancers in the U.S.

Marc Kiviniemi, lead researcher and assistant professor of community health and health behavior, says that the majority of studies on behavior don’t account for more emotional reactions that lead to more risky behaviors, including not using sunscreen.

“This study is important because most of what we do in public health communications focuses on spreading knowledge and information. By not addressing emotions, we’re potentially missing a rich influence on behavior when interventions don’t address feelings,” said Kiviniemi in a statement.

The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.