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`I`m less at risk than most guys`: gay men`s unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV

Gold, Ron and Aucote, H. 2003, `I`m less at risk than most guys`: gay men`s unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV, International journal of STD & AIDS, vol. 14, pp. 18-23.

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Title `I`m less at risk than most guys`: gay men`s unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV
Author(s) Gold, Ron
Aucote, H.
Journal name International journal of STD & AIDS
Volume number 14
Start page 18
End page 23
Publisher Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2003-01
ISSN 0956-4624
1758-1052
Keyword(s) unrealistic optimism
gay men
cognitive account
motivational account
Summary Among the self-justifications that gay men use when engaging in high-risk sex is the thought that they are less at risk than most gay men. Two explanatory models of such 'unrealistic optimism' (UO) have been proposed: while the motivational account holds that UO arises because it serves the function of bringing comfort, the cognitive account holds that UO serves no particular function, being simply a by-product of normal cognitive strategies. This study investigated predictions derived from the motivational account. Gay men uninfected with HIV (n = 88) answered two test questions, requiring them to estimate, respectively, their own risk of becoming infected and that of the average gay man. The questions were presented in the two possible orders, and were either separated or not separated by unrelated filler material. The great majority of the men (89%) exhibited UO. Neither question order nor the interpolation of filler material affected responses to either test question. The results were inconsistent with the motivational account, but explicable in terms of the cognitive account. It seems that the cognitive account provides the better explanation of at least that form of UO measured in this study. Implications for AIDS educators are discussed.
Language eng
Field of Research 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2003, Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30002237

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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