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Predictors of children's risk appraisals

DiLillo, David K.
The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between children's appraisals of risk and several variables hypothesized to be related to risk appraisal. Specifically, the relationships between television viewing behavior, level of sensation seeking, previous injury history and three domains of risk appraisal (child, adult, and television) were examined in a sample of 62 elementary school children. Children were presented with drawings of persons in a variety of risky situations, and were asked to judge the potential for physical injury in each. Results indicated that children tended to evaluate typical child, adult, and TV risk situations differently. Further, risk appraisal in each of the three risk domains was predicted by different factors. For the child domain, increased direct experience with risk was found to be associated with lower risk appraisals. Adult risk situations were most strongly related to age, with older children reporting lower risk appraisals. Sensation seeking, injury history, and weekday cartoons all predicted TV risk appraisals in a negative direction. The implications of these findings for knowledge about the origins childhood injury will be discussed.