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Unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV: different causes in different populations

Gold, Ron 2006, Unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV: different causes in different populations, International journal of STD & AIDS, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 196-199, doi: 10.1258/095646206775809169.

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Title Unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV: different causes in different populations
Author(s) Gold, Ron
Journal name International journal of STD & AIDS
Volume number 17
Issue number 3
Start page 196
End page 199
Publisher Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd.
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2006
ISSN 0956-4624
1758-1052
Keyword(s) unrealistic optimism
gay men
students
cognitive account
motivational account
event valence
Summary People tend to believe that their chance of experiencing undesirable events is lower and their chance of experiencing desirable events is higher than that of the average person like them. Two explanatory models of such 'unrealistic optimism' (UO) have been proposed: While the motivational account holds that UO 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. UO for HIV infection was studied in samples of uninfected students (Study 1, n = 68) and gay men (Study 2, n = 63). In each case, participants rated either their relative likelihood of becoming infected (negative valence condition) or their relative likelihood of remaining uninfected (positive valence condition). As predicted, in Study 1 UO was greater where valence was negative and in Study 2 valence had no effect. The findings suggest that the students' UO is better explained by the motivational account, while the gay men's UO is better explained by the cognitive account. Implications for AIDS education are discussed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1258/095646206775809169
Field of Research 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, Royal Society of Medicine Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30003690

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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