Effects of time perspective biases and timing manipulation on sun protection attitudes and behaviors

The present project examined whether the effects of an appearance-based sun protection intervention would be enhanced through consideration of individual time perspective (TP) biases and the manipulation of different time frames. Southern California college students had a facial UV photo taken which showed existing epidermal pigmentation changes caused by the sun. The amount of time that participants were told they would see the damage appear on the skin surface was varied on a randomized basis (3-4 years vs. 15-20 years vs. 30-40 years vs. no timing information). Results demonstrated that those high in future TP bias reported greater intentions to use sunscreen, less willingness to engage in risky sun exposure behavior, and greater self-efficacy for regular sunscreen use compared to those low in future TP. One month following the intervention, those low in future TP were significantly less tan if they had been told that the damage in the UV photo would appear in 3-4 years than if they were in any of the other timing manipulation conditions. In contrast, for those high in future TP skin color was darker for those told the damage would appear in 3-4 years than in the other conditions. Further, for those low in future TP, self-reported sun protection during intentional exposure was greater for those given, versus those not given, a specific time frame in which damage would become visible. Finally, for those high in future TP, sun protection was the highest for those who were told that the damage would become visible in 30-40 years. Keywords: sun protection, time perspective, timing manipulation, spectrophotometer, and college students