Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Psychology and Social Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Paul Chang


There has been much psychological research conducted on the motivations to engage in suntanning and to a lesser extent, sun protective behaviours. The research has shown that compared to all other age groups, adolescents have the greatest desire to obtain a suntan, expose themselves to the sun the most and typically do not engage in sun protective behaviours. The theory of planned behaviour has been used a number of times to predict the intentions and the behaviours of deliberate sun exposure and to a lesser extent, sun protection. However, the theory of planned behaviour has often been unsuccessful in accounting for the majority of explained variance for these particular intentions and behaviours. This paper provides a review of research that has investigated important variables that influence adolescent sun exposure and sun protection. In particular, these predictor variables are reviewed for their inclusion within the theory of planned behaviour. The review highlights several factors that should be considered when predicting adolescent sun-related behaviour. These include, skin type, perceptions of tanned skin, age, descriptive norms, and unrealistic optimism. The paper concludes with implications of review findings and directions for future research. Adolescence presents itself as a particular time in which the adoption of sun protective behaviour is imperative. However, compared to all other age groups, adolescents have been acknowledged has having the worst sun-safety behaviour. It is therefore important to investigate what influences adolescents to engage in sun protective behaviours. The present study examined the sun protection intentions of adolescents (N = 102), living in Western Australia, through extending the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) to incorporate the additional influencers of descriptive norms, unrealistic optimism, age and skin type. Consistent with the hypotheses and previous non-TPB research findings, the inclusion of the additional predictor variables were able to account for significantly more of the variance in intentions to use sun protection than the original constructs of the TPB alone. Regression analyses, however, revealed that of the additional predictor variables, only age and unrealistic optimism made significant, unique contributions in predicting intentions to use sun protection. The research highlights the important influence age and unrealistic optimism can have upon adolescent intentions to use sun protection. The findings validate the use of these additional predictor variables along with the TPB to predict the intentions of adolescents to use sun protection.