A prominent explanation for people's involvement in harmful behaviour is that they have poor risk-judging skills. However, a number of studies have shown that there is a great variability in morality about the nature of acceptable norms of conduct and lifestyle and that different cultural groups correspond to very heterogeneous risk assessments. The current study evaluates the proposition by proponents of cultural theory that a person's worldview plays a major role in affecting risk evaluation (Boholm, 1998). Particularly, the study tests the hypothesis that subjective cultures in terms of which people interpret their micro and macro social environment affect the magnitude of the risk related to different kinds of hazardous behaviours. Subjective cultures of the social environment were detected through the questionnaire on the Interpretation of the Social Environment (Mossi & Salvatore, 2011) among high school students and bachelor degree students from South-East Italy. Respondents were asked to indicate their personal opinion regarding risks related to different kind of behaviours: drug and alcohol use, smoking, smartphone use, driver risk-behaviour, unsafe sexual behaviour, in three domains: health, relationships and social approval. Three Principal Components Analyses (PCA) – one for each of the domains of risk investigated – were applied to the risk ratings expressed by the respondents. Correlation Analysis was applied to analyze the linkage between the components of risk rating extracted and subjective cultures. The findings show that different cultural views of the social environment relate to different evaluations of the magnitude of risks related to different kinds of hazardous behaviour (i.e. socialized/not socialized; licit/illicit). The subjective cultures might constitute a factor to be taken into account to get a better understanding of the attitude towards hazardous behaviours among adolescents and young adults and to improve healthcare strategies.
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