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121 Using peer communicated behavioural norms about safety to reduce injury-risk behaviours by children
  1. Barbara Morrongiello,
  2. Mackenzie Seasons,
  3. Ekaterina Pogrebtsova,
  4. Julia Stewart,
  5. Jayme Feliz
  1. University of Guelph, Guelph Ontario, CANADA


Background Previous research has shown that children engage in greater physical risk taking when in an elevated positive mood state. The current study examined whether exposure to a peer-communicated behavioural norm about safety could counteract this effect.

Methods Community recruitment resulted in a sample of 120 children (7 to 10 years), including 60 boys (M age = 8.13 yrs; SD = 0.93 yrs) and 60 girls (M age = 8.02 yrs; SD = 0.91 years). Children’s intentions to engage in risk taking (based on identifying from photos which risky playground behaviours they would do if they had to make a videotape later that day) and actual risk behaviours (based on how they behaved when running through an obstacle course that contained hazards) were measured while in a neutral and positive mood state, with positive mood induced experimentally via false positive feedback during the playing of a novel videogame (emotion ratings throughout the session validated the positive mood induction worked; there was a significant increase in positive mood, as expected, t(119) = 15.12, p < .001). Before completing the risk taking tasks when in a positive mood state, children were exposed to either a peer-communicated behavioural norm about safety or a non-norm communication; this exposure occurred by the child overhearing two children supposedly talking next door (this was actually an audiotaped recording).

Results Exposure to the non-norm communication had no effect on risk taking: children showed an increase in risk taking and intentions when in a positive aroused mood state compared to a neutral mood state (M change = +0.65 standardised RT score), F(1, 59) = 71.31, p < .001, ηp 2 = 0.55. In contrast, exposure to the peer-communicated behavioural norm about safety was effective to counteract this effect: children actually showed a significant decrease in risk taking and intentions when in a positive compared to neutral mood state (M change = −0.47 standardised RT score), F(1, 115) = 84.77, p < .001, effect size ηp 2 = 0.42. Both risk taking measures yielded the same effects.

Conclusion Manipulating children’s exposure to peer-communicated behavioural norms can be an effective strategy for reducing injury-risk behaviours.

  • children
  • risk taking
  • positive mood
  • behavioural norms
  • injury prevention

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