It Won’t happen to me: The role of optimistic bias in african american teens’ Risky Sexual Practices

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Discovering why adolescents take sexual risks, despite knowing the consequences, is a vital first step in combating the problem. Optimistic bias, the misperception that one is less likely than others to experience negative consequences from health behaviors, offers a promising explanation for adolescents' sexual risk taking. Unfortunately, optimistic bias research has neglected adolescents and minorities, relying heavily on European American college students as study subjects. Results from a small-scale survey of "at-risk" youth indicate that African American adolescents exhibit optimistic bias, believing they are less likely than peers to become pregnant (or cause a pregnancy). Findings indicate that optimistic bias is linked to sexual risk taking in youth, sexual intentions, and attitudes toward sexual activity. Although the current study is one of the first to include minority youth and one of the first to confirm a relationship between optimistic bias and risk behaviors, the findings suggest a promising course of action in reducing risky sexual practices among youth and, eventually, teen pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalHoward Journal of Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management

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