Greater health risk: helmets increase risk appetite

Greater health risk: helmets increase risk appetite

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Protective equipment causes us to take greater risks
When people wear a bicycle helmet, they hope to improve their safety on the road. Scientists have now found that a bicycle helmet increases the risk appetite in adults. The positive effect of protection could thus be negated by the subconsciously increased willingness to take risks. Helmet wearers may be less secure than previously thought.

Are you one of those people who wear a bicycle helmet in traffic? Then you definitely hope that the helmet increases your safety on the bike. However, a recent study found that helmet wearers are more likely to take greater risks. The risk of accidents increases. So it might be dangerous to wear a helmet. The researchers published the results of their new study in the journal "Psychological Science".

Study analyzes adult risk appetite
Does wearing a bicycle helmet really make our lives safer? In the event of a fall or accident, a helmet can undoubtedly help protect our head. But are there disadvantages for us if we wear a helmet on a bike? Experts have now found that people with a bicycle helmet often tend to take greater risks. The University of Bath study analyzed behavior and risk taking in adults aged 17 to 56 years. The scientists used a computer simulation for this. The subjects were divided into two groups. One group wore bicycle helmets, the other group wore baseball caps, the researchers report.

Results could have far-reaching implications
Subjects of both groups then had the task of inflating a virtual balloon in the computer simulation. The more the balloon was inflated, the more points the participants got. However, if the balloon bursts, the test subjects lost all of their points, the scientists explain. The results show that the group with helmets tended to take greater risks when inflating the balloon. The study should clarify whether certain safety advice is actually effective - including the use of helmets for various leisure activities, such as cycling, the experts report. Ian Walker and Dr. Tim Gamble.

The two scientists suspect that the results of their investigation could also have far-reaching implications for soldiers on the battlefield. Because the study makes it clear that people with protective equipment may take risks that their equipment cannot protect against, Dr. Walker. Several studies have tried in the past to analyze the so-called "risk equalization" that is triggered by wearing protective equipment. For example, people may drive cars differently if they wear seat belts, the doctors explain.

People with a feeling of security act more recklessly
In all of the cases examined, safety equipment and activity were directly related. It is logical that, for example, people play more aggressively in sports if they wear equipment that is specifically designed to make their sports safer, the researchers explain. This is the first indication that safety equipment could cause people to take greater risks. The fact does not mean that people should not wear safety equipment. The study results only show that protective equipment is much more complicated than most people think, explain the doctors. We should be aware that wearing protective equipment can sometimes have unintended effects that affect our common sense. The study shows that when people feel protected, they usually behave more carelessly. This could influence all possible situations, the experts explain. Last but not least, wearing protective equipment may even influence soldiers' strategic decisions. (as)

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