OSU Study: Low self-esteem contributes to millennials lack of knowledge about tanning

Facts about sunscreen graphic: Oliver Day, Oregon State University.

Many millennials aren’t getting the message about sun safety and the dangers of tanning outdoors, a study from Oregon State University’s Cascades campus has found.

Researchers said the millennials lack of knowledge was partly due to their low self-esteem and narcissism.

The researchers found that those who had higher levels of self-esteem were less likely to tan while those with lower levels were more likely to tan. Many of those who tanned believed doing so would improve their appearance. That in turn would make them feel better about themselves and more confident in their appearance.

Their tanning would then become addictive.

According to OSU, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world.

Researchers also wanted to see if newly required labels on sunscreen bottles were effective at curbing tanning behavior. Those labels include directions for sunscreen use and advice on other sun protection measures.

The authors of the study surveyed 250 college students, most between 18 years old and 23 years old. Their average score was 54 percent on a sun safety test.

From their study, the researchers found no evidence that increased knowledge about sun safety leads to lower levels of tanning.

“What we found is that this knowledge doesn’t matter to the consumers,” said one of the study’s authors, Amy Watson, an assistant professor at OSU-Cascades. “That tactic to require sunscreen manufacturers to include this information is not effective.”

Researchers will now try testing other types of messages to identify ways millennials would respond more positively to sun safety measures.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

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