Very little is known about the extent to which seemingly vulnerable younger and older adults appraise household risks and relatedly whether safety information focused on raising risk awareness influences intentions to reduce hazards in the home. The present study assessed age differences in accident experience, risk attitudes, household accident risk perceptions, comparative optimism, personal control, efficacy judgements, and intentions to remove household hazards. It also examined the predictors of these intentions. Thirty-eight younger adults (aged 18 to 25) and forty older adults (aged 65 to 87) completed study booklets containing all measures. There were significant age group differences for all accident experience and risk-related variables. Younger adults experienced more accidents, had riskier attitudes, and had significantly lower cognitive risk perceptions (i.e., they were less likely to be injured due to a household accident). They also had lower affective risk perceptions (i.e., they were less worried) about their accident risk and perceived more personal control over the risk compared with older adults. Young adults were comparatively optimistic about their risk while older adults were pessimistic. Older adults had higher response efficacy and intentions to reduce hazards in the home. Only worry, response efficacy, and risk attitudes predicted intention, however, these relationships were not moderated by age or efficacy appraisal. Although tentative theoretical and practical implications are presented, further research is required in order to better understand the objective and subjective risk associated with household accidents, and to determine the factors that may improve safety, particularly for those most vulnerable.
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