Illusional beliefs in the context of risky sexual behaviors

Deborah J. Wiebe, David Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The function and maintenance of illusions were explored. Three groups were selected by comparing perceived risk for contracting an STD or becoming pregnant with reported sexual behaviors: realistic low risk (n = 33), realistic high risk (n = 23), and illusional low risk (n = 16). Illusional subjects tended to avoid exposure to risk information, deny its relevance, and experience no increase in negative affect when confronted with contraceptive information. In contrast, high-risk subjects expressed interest in viewing contraceptive information, acknowledged its relevance and, among women, experienced an increase in negative affect after viewing the information. Avoidance and denial were ego-protective, primarily for illusional subjects. Implications for research on the self-regulatory effects of illusional beliefs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1727-1749
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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