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Wearing a cycle helmet leads to more risk-taking, study finds

Wearing a cycle helmet leads to more risk-taking, study finds

Participants in University of Bath study weren’t told its true purpose A study from two researchers at the University of Bath has found that people wearing cycle helmets are more likely to take risks and be sensation-seekers than those wearing baseball caps.

Co-authored by Ian Walker and Tim Gamble of the university’s Department of Psychology, the study (link is external) suggests that there could be “more extreme unintended consequences of safety equipment in hazardous situations” than was previously thought to exist.

Some subterfuge was involved, the authors admit.

“Participants were (falsely) told they were taking part in an eye-tracking study so we could exploit the fact the SensoMotric Head-mounted Eye Tracking Device comes with both a bicycle helmet [Abus HS-10 S-Force Peak] and a baseball cap as its standard mounting solutions,” they said.

Nor were bicycles involved, so the subjects – 80 people aged between 17 and 56 years – were unaware that the true purpose of the study was to assess differences in behaviour depending on the specific headgear worn.

The researchers had participants complete a computer-based laboratory measure named the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) under which they say ”the helmet could do nothing to change risk,” and they “also measured […]

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