Fear Makes You Use Sunblock

With the summer in full swing, people will be spending extended periods of time cooking under the sun. Most medical professionals advise you use sunblock for any amount of time in sunlight, but a recent study shows that it’s fear that motivates people to wear sunblock more than anything else.

According to the New York Daily News, a study was conducted at the University of Buffalo that suggests the fear of getting skin cancer is the primary motivator for wearing sunblock, more than the statistical evidence of its likelihood. In other words, the thought that you, personally, will get skin cancer scares you into using sunblock more than the knowledge that many others have it.

The sunblock research was led by Marc Kiviniemi, the assistant professor of community health and health behavior. He and his team compiled data on sunblock use collected during a U.S. study by the National Cancer Institute surveying a sample of 1,500 participants. Participants were selected based on the absence of skin cancer. The conclusion was reached by asking participants about their worries regarding skin cancer and the amount of sunblock they use as a result. Fourteen percent of the people questioned in the study used sunblock regularly. Thirty-two percent never used sunblock. Those who did claimed that a fear of skin cancer motivated them to put on sunblock; even those who didn’t claimed their fear of cancer made them think sunblock should be used.

Kiviniemi said:

“These findings show that clinicians might want to think more about feelings when encouraging people to use [sunblock]. In addition to providing educational information about risk, encouraging people to consider how they feel about cancer and how worried they are about it might inspire preventive behaviors.”


The study was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

According to CTV News, another study was performed in Colorado, surveying 50 students from local high schools to determine their sunblock use and their knowledge of sun protection. In the study, one group was shown a video about the dangers of skin cancer. The other group was shown a video about premature aging due to sun exposure. The participants were questioned six weeks later about sunblock use. The results are pretty surprising.

The second group had started using sunblock and maximizing sun protection, while the first showed no significant change in sunblock use or skin safety. The study concluded that the fear of aging and cosmetic damage motivated teenagers to use sunblock more than a fear of cancer. Either way, fear is what drives people to slather on that sunblock.

Perhaps the knowledge of beloved celebrities getting skin cancer can also help encourage people to wear sunblock? The Inquisitr recently reported that actor Hugh Jackman was diagnosed with skin cancer and advised the public to use sunblock.