Australian young adults' tanning behaviour: The role of ideal skin tone and sociocultural norms

Ashley Day, Carlene Wilson, Amanda Hutchinson, Rachel Roberts

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Decreasing intentional tanning behaviour is a critical area of skin cancer prevention. Research evidence that tanning behaviour is significantly influenced by appearance motivations exists. The Tripartite Influence Model posits that internalisation of ideals about body image mediates the relationship between sociocultural norms and appearance-related behaviour and has been demonstrated primarily in the domain of weight. This study aimed to assess whether ideal skin tone (internalisation of a tanned ideal) mediated the endorsement of sociocultural norms about attractiveness of tanned skin and 12-month tanning behaviour. Method: Young adult participants (N = 514) from the university (removed for blind review) were surveyed regarding their ideal skin tone and sociocultural norm endorsement. Results: At 12-month follow-up, 246 participants reported their tanning behaviour over the previous year. Results indicated that the internalisation of a tanned ideal mediated the relationship between sociocultural norms and tanning behaviour for females but not males. Young adult males also desired a tanned appearance, and peer sociocultural perceptions were associated with male tanning behaviour. Conclusions: This research lends support to the proposition that the Tripartite Influence Model has explanatory power for tanning behaviour. We recommend that future research involving young adults incorporate skin tone and tanning as a component of body image alongside body shape and eating behaviours.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-94
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
    Issue number2
    Early online date2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


    • gender differences
    • skin cancer
    • sociocultural norms
    • sun behaviour
    • tanning


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