Psychology, Department of


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Published in Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 19:3 (1998), pp. 415–427. Copyright © 1998 by Ablex Publishing Corp; published by Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


This study explored variables associated with cognitive appraisals of physical risk in a sample of 62 elementary school children. Participants were presented with drawings of persons in three categories of risky situations typical of children, typical of adults, and typical of television plots. They were asked to judge the potential for physical injury in each. Results indicated that children tended to appraise risks in child, adult, and TV-plot risk situations differently, and that each type of situation was predicted by different variables. For the child situations, greater amounts of direct experience with the risk situation itself was found to be associated with lower risk appraisals. Appraisals of adult risk situations were predicted by age, with older children reporting lower risk appraisals. Sensation seeking, injury history, and weekday cartoon viewing all predicted lower risk appraisals of television situations. Implications of these findings for knowledge about the origins of childhood injury are discussed.