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   Abstract
  Introduction
   Basis of the pre...
  Aims
  Methods
  Instruments
  Results
  Discussion
  Conclusions
  Acknowledgments
   References
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ARTICLE  
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 53  |  Page : 310-319
Risks and music - Patterns among young women and men in Sweden

1 Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; Department of Social and Behavioral Studies, University West, Trollhättan
2 Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
3 Institute for Disability Research, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

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Date of Web Publication14-Jul-2011
 
  Abstract 

Music and high levels of sound have not traditionally been associated with risk-taking behaviors. Loud music may intensify and bring more power and meaning to the musical experience, but it can at the same time be harmful to hearing. The present study aims to increase the knowledge about young women's and men's risk judgement and behaviour by investigating patterns in adolescent risk activities among 310 adolescents aged 15-20 (143 women; 167 men). The Australian instrument ARQ was used with additional questions on hearing risks and a factor analysis was conducted. The main results showed that the factor structure in the judgement and behavior scale for Swedish adolescents was rather different from the factor structure in the Australian sample. Also, the factor structure was not similar to the Australian sample split on gender. The results are discussed from a gender- and existential perspective on risk taking, and it is emphasized that research on risk behavior needs to reconceptualize stereotypical ideas about gender and the existential period in adolescence.

Keywords: Adolescents, existentialism, gender, music, noise, risk-taking behavior

How to cite this article:
Bohlin M C, Sorbring E, Widén S E, Erlandsson S I. Risks and music - Patterns among young women and men in Sweden. Noise Health 2011;13:310-9

How to cite this URL:
Bohlin M C, Sorbring E, Widén S E, Erlandsson S I. Risks and music - Patterns among young women and men in Sweden. Noise Health [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Aug 8];13:310-9. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2011/13/53/310/82964

  Introduction Top


Media, school, health care services and parents constantly send messages to adolescents about how they should adapt their behavior to norms in society, in particular when it comes to risky activities. [1],[2],[3],[4] However, these messages do not always bring about the wanted effect, adolescents still engage in risky activities. One possibility is that society does not regard risk taking as an inherent element in young people's lives which allows them to develop. Preventive strategies are often solely informative and are not adjusted to the reality of adolescents. Music and high levels of sound have not traditionally been associated with risk-taking behaviors. However, loud music may intensify and make the musical experience more meaningful and thus increase the quality of life, but at the same time it can be harmful to hearing. [1],[2],[5],[6] In a study by Bohlin and Erlandsson, [1] 6.1% adolescents reported permanent tinnitus, 15.8% temporary tinnitus, 5.8% hearing impairment and 20.6% noise sensitivity. The numbers of self-reported hearing problems among Swedish adolescents are also supported by Olsen Widιn and Erlandsson [7] and stress a need to regard noisy environments [2] as traditional risk situations. The present study aims to increase the knowledge about young women's and men's risk judgement and behavior by investigating structures and patterns in adolescent risk activities. We hope that this may contribute to the knowledge about risk-taking behavior and how to think and/or rethink concerning preventive strategies in this area.

Risks do not simply represent a threat; they also provide existential meaning and opportunities for young people to mature. Bohlin, Sorbring and Erlandsson [2] performed in-depth interviews with young women and men about their risk taking behaviors in traditionally risky situations [] (i.e., alcohol use, speeding) and risks in noisy environments (i.e., rock concerts, clubs). Two broad dimensions of risk-taking behavior emerged as a result of the qualitative analysis; a social and an existential dimension. The social dimension concerns that the informants express and perceive feelings of expressiveness, individuality and accessibility when taking a risk. The existential dimension concerns the informants' feelings of introspection, transcendence and conditional freedom, in risk taking situations. Accordingly, the authors claim that an existential perspective needs to play a crucial role in the analysis on risk taking, for example, when designing interview guides or questionnaires.

Adolescence is a time filled with conflicts, many of which are reminders of existential questions, such as levels of perceived freedom, options, awareness of death and anxiety. [8] According to Ellsworth, [8] the dark lyrics in some genres of music, the way in which some young men and women dress, as well as a lack of interest in their future and their own survival, should be understood as emerging from the phase of existential emptiness constituting youth. The health-preventative work that takes place, with its messages of illness, suffering and death, is often designed in a way that may cause young people to be apprehensive. This approach may cause young people to switch off emotionally, instead of weighing up the existential meaning and the danger of risks before acting in a risky situation. [2]

Sometimes adolescents engage in risky activities since this provides them with certain privileges. [4] For example, Brady, Song and Halpern-Felsher [9] disclose, that many adolescents report smoking as being both positive and negative and the Bohlin, Sorbring and Erlandsson [2] study points to the same regarding musical experiences. In general, young people have pro-risk attitudes, and those who have the most positive attitudes are also those who more frequently engage in risk-taking activities, thus suffering more from the consequences of their behavior, and being less inclined to use protective strategies. [10] However, Bohlin and Erlandsson [1] show that young women in Sweden judge risky situations to be more dangerous compared to young men, but they nevertheless behave in the same way in traditionally risky environments and noisy environments. Compared to young men, young women experience music at clubs and rock concerts as more hazardous, although they spend just as much time in such environments as their male counterparts. Talking to strangers and being out late at night are also considered to be more risky by women, even though they are out late and converse with strangers equally as often as the men. [1] Interviews among young women and men reveal that men tend to adopt a sense of invulnerability in order to follow social norms of masculinity. At the same time, it is socially acceptable for women to reveal themselves as vulnerable by demonstrating concern by, for example, using hearing protectors or leaving the clubs or rock concerts. [11] Also, young men both in Sweden and in other countries are found to have more sexual freedom than young women, [12] although, low quality of life is associated with sexual risk behavior among women. [13] Women are controlled by negative name giving and rumours and they are also supposed to be responsible for safe sex. Gender and sexual norms regarding sexual health are noticeably neglected in several countries and preventive strategies need to include the understanding of social norms. [12],[14] In Sweden, women report lower quality of life than men which may be a result of greater and/or different stressors due to cultural and social expectations. [15] People are expected to fit into stable gender roles, have fixed gender-related qualities and physical attributes, and are not supposed to change between "feminine" and "masculine" expressions. [16],[17] In Sweden today, Ekervald [18] argues, women participate in risky activities that traditionally have been male domains. This contradicts certain previous research which suggests that women judge risky situations as more dangerous than men and that they do not participate in them to the same extent. [3],[19] A more equal society, from a gender perspective, may alter women's behavior in a direction toward activities that have traditionally been considered as characteristically male in order to assert equality, but, at the same time, are judgements, attitudes and social norms more resistant to change. [1]

Adolescent risk-taking behaviors are under the influence of social norms and values of contemporary society. Attitudes and behaviors are particularly influenced by gender norms and expectations on the way we express our gender. Both everyday ideas and theories on risk taking are characterized by expectations on people's gender identity and what is seen as masculine or feminine behavior color adolescents' perceptions of risk taking. [2],[18],[20] Both young women and men try to fit into male and female norms produced and reproduced by individuals in society. For instance, men struggle to reach social status in their group in which certain lifestyles are expressed through a "macho" attitude which encourages them to compete and succeed. Women are also encouraged, by both men and women, to compete and succeed, however, not always in the same areas or to the same extent as men. Young women experience a need to succeed in their studies, their bodies' appearance, and in the nurturing role. It is not socially acceptable for women to be too drunk, drive too fast, or be too sexually active. Women end up balancing the normative ideal of femininity and a broader framework of what women are allowed to do in contemporary society. [2]

Still, Backhans, Lundberg and Mεnsdotter [21] argue that increased gender equality correlates with poor health among both men and women. This is assumed to be due to spin-off effects of a compromise between equality and public health. Having women in traditionally male spheres does not result in improved public health unless the men's behavior also changes. Therefore, negative effects of such incomplete equality are for women an increased work load, and for men a loss of privileges. Based on Skeggs' theory [20] and the findings of Bohlin and Erlandsson; [1] Bohlin, Sorbring and Erlandsson [2] and Widιn and Erlandsson, [11] it can be assumed that young men, but also women, create and reproduce traditional forms of being young.


  Basis of the present study Top


The adolescents' own perceptions of risk can be used to predict their risk behaviors, and young women, according to Gullone et al., [22] judge certain types of behavior as being riskier than young men do, and do not take part in risky activities to the same extent as the men do. The Australian study revealed four similar patterns (factor analysis) for men and women regarding both behavior and judgement that includes: Thrill-seeking behaviors, Rebellious behavior, Reckless behavior and Antisocial behavior. Similar patterns were found when the sample was divided according to gender. By using Gullone's et al.[22] instrument Adolescent Risk Taking Questionnaire (ARQ), Bohlin and Erlandsson [1] investigated the complexity of and correlations among risk behaviors in a traditional sense (e.g. smoking and drug use) and in noisy environments (e.g., clubs and rock concerts). The study was conducted among Swedish adolescents and showed that even though young women judge risky situations to be more dangerous compared to young men, they behaved in the same way in traditionally risky environments and noisy environments, which contradicts the result from the study by Gullone et al. [22] As mentioned before, what is seen as masculine and feminine behavior seem to color the adolescents' perceptions of risk taking, but also their existential considerations on life. [2] Hence, this study is based on an existential view on risk behavior and risk judgement. This emphasizes the need to study how patterns of risk-taking behavior and judgement among Swedish adolescents are constituted, both in the sample as a whole as well as divided according to gender.


  Aims Top


The aim of the present study was to explore patterns in risk taking (judgements and behaviors) among Swedish young men and women. In order to elucidate the role of existential and gender factors, the results will be interpreted in an existential and gender perspective. To comply with these aims the following questions were raised:

  • How do risks in musical settings relate to traditional risk judgements and behaviors?
  • Which patterns emerge in adolescents' reports of risk judgement and behavior and are these patterns gender-related?



  Methods Top


Subjects

The participants were 310 adolescents, 143 females and 167 males (age 15-20) recruited from three upper secondary schools in the west of Sweden. The schools were located in a large urban centre (N=83), in a medium-sized town (N=131) and in a small rural community (N=96). The participants were selected from six different theoretically and vocationally oriented study programs (Technology, Social Sciences, Electronics and Telecommunications, Science, Catering and Child Care). The response rate was 84.2% (310 of 359 pupils), the non-respondents being those students (15.8%) who were absent from school on the day when the questionnaire was administered. The three schools were located in three municipalities. The socioeconomic status (SES) for the municipalities was 2.11, 2.03 and 2.15 and it was calculated based on both parents' educational level in the year 2006 (1 - Compulsory school, 2 - Upper secondary school and 3 - Higher education such as university). The national average level was 2.17. [23]


  Instruments Top


Risk judgment and behavior

The "ARQ" (by Gullone et al.) [22] which measures both risk judgements and risk behaviors on a five-point Likert type scale, is comprised of 44 items. The respondents were asked to tick the box that best described how risky they believed different situations or behaviors to be. The risk judgement scale considers the degree of risk that is perceived to be linked to various situations (e.g., smoking, taking drugs and visiting rock concerts). Permitted response options are 'extremely risky', 'very risky', 'risky', 'not so risky' and 'not at all risky' (coded 0 for 'extremely risky' to 4 for 'not at all risky'). The risk behavior scale measures the extent to which the subject is normally involved in these behaviors ('never done', 'almost never done', 'do sometimes', 'do often', 'do very often') and were coded 0 'never done' to 4 'do very often'. The respondents were instructed to tick the box that best described their behavior for each situation on the list.

The reliability for the ARQ (judgement and behavior) was examined using Cronbach's-α. For the risk judgement part of the questionnaire, a Cronbach's-α level of 0.88 (22 questions) was attained, whilst the obtained α-level for the behavioral part (22 questions) was 0.82. The frequencies in the ARQ were unevenly distributed over several items and there was a tendency of extreme values being favored in both directions due to engagement in certain behaviors to either a lesser or greater degree. It is therefore not certain that a more justified result would have been obtained had there been a larger or smaller range of options, as many different risk behaviors were measured. However, the total score for both the risk judgement and the risk behavior scales was normally distributed. No bimodal curves were found. The total mean scores of the risk judgement scale, including both traditional risks and hearing risks, were 1.93 (females=1.78 and males=2.08) and of the risk behavior scale (traditional and hearing risks) 1.09 (females=1.06 and males=1.11). More comprehensive information on the evaluation of the ARQ can be found in the Bohlin and Erlandsson study. [1]

Risk judgement, behavior and hearing

Questions concerning the exposure to high levels of sound, influenced by the "Youth Attitude to Noise Scale" (YANS), [24] were added to the ARQ but were designed in the same way as the ARQ risk questions. There were four questions added regarding judgement and four regarding behavior. For the judgement scale, the respondents were asked to tick the box that best described how risky they believed different situations or behaviors to be with the addition of "to your hearing" for the questions regarding noise (coded 0 for 'extremely risky' to 4 for 'not at all risky'). For the behavior scale the respondents were asked to tick the box that best described how often they engaged in risky situations (coded 0 for 'never done' to 4 'do very often'). When the four items on noise exposure were included in the judgement and behavior scales, the α-values yielded were 0.89 and 0.83, respectively.

Procedure

The principals at each school gave their permission for the study to be conducted. The teachers were informed of the purpose of the study and of the times when the questionnaires would be administered, all of which took place during lessons. A researcher (the first author) was present during the administration in order to give instructions on how to fill in the questionnaire and also to answer any questions raised by the students. In each classroom the teacher provided assistance by referring any questions that emerged during the approximately 25 minutes it took to fill in the questionnaires to the researcher. The researcher informed the students of the participation being voluntary and guaranteed the participants discretion and confidentiality.

Statistics

A principal component analysis (PCA) followed by an oblimin rotation was computed for the whole sample (men and women included in the same analysis) both for the judgement and the behavior scale [Table 1] and [Table 2]. Since the items were presumed to be related to some extent due to that all items concerned risky situations and after taking theoretical implications into consideration, from the study by Gullone et al., [22] an oblimin rotation was used. Reliability (Cronbach's-α) was calculated for each factor for both the judgement and the behavior scale. To investigate patterns of risk taking in regard to gender, the sample was divided into men and women in both the judgment and behavior scale [Table 3] and [Table 4] and a PCA along with an oblimin rotation were executed. The reliability (Cronbach's-α) was calculated for each factor and for women and men separately, both for the judgment and the behavior scale. The number of factors was set according to screeplots and eigenvalues. In other words, no factors were set beforehand.

To investigate relations between the evolved factors in the ARQ risk judgement and risk behavior scale with the questions on hearing risk judgement and hearing risk behaviors, Pearson's correlations were executed [Table 5].
Table 1: Pattern matrix for risk judgement from the principal component analysis followed by an oblimin rotation (22 items). Cronbach's alpha is presented for each factor and explained variance for all factors


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Table 2: Pattern matrix for risk behaviour from the principal component analysis followed by an oblimin rotation (22 items). Cronbach's alpha is presented for each factor and explained variance for all factors


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Table 3: Pattern matrix for women and men separately regarding judgement emerged from the principal component analysis followed by an oblimin rotation (22 items) along with explained variance. Cronbach's alphas are presented for each factor


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Table 4: Pattern matrix for women and men regarding behaviour emerged from the principal component analysis followed by an oblimin rotation (22 items) along with explained variance. Cronbach’s alpha is presented for each factor


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Table 5: Correlations (Pearson’s product moment) between the hearing risk judgement scale and factors in the ARQ risk judgement scale as well as correlations between the hearing risk behaviour scale and the factors in the ARQ risk behaviour scale


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  Results Top


The results are presented in the form of descriptive statistics, factor analysis for risk judgement and behavior, correlations between judgement, behavior and hearing risks as well as correlation between risk judgement, behavior and quality of life.

Factoring adolescents' risk judgement and risk behavior

A PCA followed by an oblimin rotation for both the judgement and the behavior scale was executed for the entire ARQ. Factors and loadings are presented in [Table 1] and [Table 2].

A five factor solution emerged in the ARQ judgement scale, which explained 55.80% of the variance. As shown in [Table 1], there are double loadings over .3 for several items, particularly in factor 3. Factor 1 can be interpreted as risk situations which traditionally are called rebellious and factor 2 can be interpreted as antisocial. While factor 3 seem to concern school-oriented risk activities, factor 4 may be interpreted in a more traditional way, as thrill seeking. Factor 5 seems to concern sports and competitive activities. Cronbach's-α shows decreased values, particularly in factor 3 and 5.

In the ARQ behavior scale, a four-factor solution emerged which explained 47.47% of the variance. As shown in [Table 2] there are double loadings over .3 for some items, particularly in factor 1. This factor is similar to factor 1 (called rebellious behavior) in the judgement scale, though not completely. Some of the items which loaded in factor 3 (risky school activities) in judgment, are here found in factor 1. Factor 2 is similar to factor 5 (sports and competitive activities) in the judgement scale and factor 3 seems to be what traditionally is called antisocial behaviors (factor 2 in judgement). Factor 4 is similar, but not completely with thrill-seeking behaviors (factor 4 in judgement).

In summary, there are some common denominators between judgement and behavior in the Swedish sample. However, there are also many examples of dissimilarities and items are loading in diverse factors for judgement and behavior which shows that the patterns in the ARQ were rather indistinct.

Traditional risk judgement and behavior and hearing risks

Correlations between the factors in the ARQ risk judgement and risk behavior and hearing risk judgement and behavior are presented in [Table 4].

  • Significant correlations were found between all factors in the ARQ risk behavior and hearing risk behavior scales. The factor that seemed to have the closest relation to hearing risk behavior was factor 1 (underage drinking, getting drunk, staying out late and talking to strangers). There were also correlations between hearing risk judgement and ARQ risk judgement in general in all factors except in factor 5 (skiing, rollerblading and entering a competition). These results suggest that there are common denominators between hearing risk judgment and traditional judgement behavior as well as between hearing risk behavior and traditional risk behavior.


Gender, risk judgement and behavior

A PCA followed by an oblimin rotation divided according to gender for both the judgement and the behavior scale was executed. Factors and loadings for each gender on judgement are presented in [Table 3] and for gender on behavior in [Table 4].

A diverse factor structure appeared in the judgement scale [Table 3]. The six factors for women explained 60.87% of the variance. The emerged five factors in the judgement scale for men explained 56.09% of the variance [Table 3]. The analysis showed that some of the factors were relatively similar for young men and women, even though some items loaded differently and the factors for men were one less than those for women.

The reliability (Cronbach's-α) was calculated for each factor and for women and men separately. The reliability was rather low for women in the sixth factor, and seems to be a questionable factor. Concerning the young men, the reliability was more consistent, even though in some cases rather low.

A seven factor structure emerged for women in the behavior scale which explained 66.15% of the variance [Table 4]. For men, the analysis yielded six factors in the behaviors scale, which explained 59.79% of the variance [Table 4].

The factors 1 and 2 which emerged in the analysis were relatively similar for young men and women. Also, factor 1 had some common denominators with the first factor in the judgment scale (the factor called 3). All other factors differed markedly for women and men and interpretations of how items were related to each other in each factor both within and between groups were difficult to make. Along with the factor analysis, the reliability (Cronbach's-α) was calculated for each factor for women and men separately in the behavior scale, and these numbers are to be seen in [Table 4]. Since risk behavior was spread in several factors, the reliability was rather low for both women and men in some factors. In one factor each (factor 5 for both women and men), there was only one item included, which made the α not possible to execute. In sum, factors for both judgement and behavior divided according to gender were rather blurred and difficult to interpret. This issue will be addressed in the discussion.

Pearson's correlation was calculated for women and men separately regarding traditional risk judgment, and traditional risk behavior and was found to be significant. Among women the correlation was r=.34 and among men r=.35. However, when calculating Pearson's correlation regarding hearing risk judgement and hearing risk behavior (women and men separately) both were found to be non significant. In other words, there is a relationship between traditional risk judgement and risk behavior which suggests that if young people judge a situation as risky, they tend not to engage in it and vice versa. This is, however, not the case for judgement and behavior regarding hearing risks.


  Discussion Top


The results are discussed in view of theoretical, empirical implications and preventive strategies on adolescent risk taking behaviors in different environments (i.e., leisure, home and school activities). To begin with, there are some theoretical and empirical starting points that we believe contribute to the area of research; for example, the importance of including hearing risks in traditional risks and interpreting the concepts of risk taking in a gender and existential perspective. As mentioned, music and high levels of sound have not been associated with risk-taking behaviors, since loud music may intensify and make the musical experience more powerful. However, high levels of sound can at the same time be harmful to hearing. [1],[2],[5],[6] Including hearing risks, i.e., listening to loud music, in traditional risks has contributed to a deeper understanding of risk taking behaviors; partly due to the important role music plays to many young people. As Ellsworth [8] asserts, adolescence is a time filled with conflicts, with existential and social considerations sometimes explored through musical experiences. Attitudes and especially behavior are influenced by gender norms, and everyday ideas as well as theories on risk taking are characterized by expectations on people's gender identity. [1],[18],[20] Stereotypical images of how masculinity and femininity are expressed in behavior are likely to affect young people's perceptions on risk taking. [2]

Relationships between traditional risk judgment and traditional risk behavior were found to be significant; however, there was no significant correlation between hearing risk judgement and hearing risk behavior. These findings suggest that young people do not perceive hearing risks as being as serious as traditional risks even though a rather large number of them experience temporary tinnitus and worry about such symptoms. [1],[7],[11] Both Bohlin, Sorbring and Erlandsson [2] and Widιn and Erlandsson [11] have come to the same conclusion i.e., that adolescents do not consider noisy environments (clubs and rock concerts) to be as risky as traditional risk situations (drug using and speeding). On the other hand, adolescents engage in hearing risks and traditional risks, often at the same time, which are shown in the present study. Almost every factor on risk behavior and all except one factor on judgement correlate with hearing risks. The factor which seems to have the closest relation to hearing risk behavior was the factor which included underage drinking, getting drunk, staying out late and talking to strangers. Visiting clubs and rock concerts can be seen as social activities which can be both positive and negative. Concert halls or clubs are arenas for meeting new people late in the evening under the influence of alcohol. That risky activities can be both negative and positive is something that Brady, Song and Halpern-Felsher [9] and Bohlin, Sorbring and Erlandsson [2] suggest in connection to smoking and loud music.

The factor structure in the ARQ judgement scale for Swedish adolescents is rather different to the factor structure in the Australian sample. There are double loadings for several items and the analysis yielded five factors instead of the four found in the Australian sample. One of the factors was similar to the factor called reckless behavior in the study by Gullone et al. [22] This can however be due to that that factor is one of the easier factors to interpret since it contains behaviors (items) that clearly are risky and easy to judge for the participants. A different factor structure in the behavior scale of our sample was found when compared to the Australian sample, even though the same amount of factors emerged. The factor called rebellious behavior by Gullone et al.[22] is the one factor with items most similar to the Swedish sample. This may be due to that, when it comes to behavior, rebellious behavior is the most common behavior among teenagers.

In Gullone's et al.[22] study among Australian adolescents, women judged certain types of behavior as more risky than men, and the women did not take part in risky activities to the same extent. Four similar patterns (factor analysis) appeared concerning both behavior and judgement: Thrill-seeking behaviors, Rebellious behavior, Reckless behavior and Antisocial behavior. The researchers have not presented results on factors for women and men on the judgement and behavior scale, but, the study indicates that there are similar patterns for men and women in both the behavior and judgement scale as well as in the patterns in the whole sample. When using Gullone's et al.[22] instrument among Swedish adolescents, Bohlin and Erlandsson [1] surprisingly found that, even though young women judge risky situations to be more dangerous compared to young men, they behave in the same way in traditionally risky environments and noisy environments, something which contradicts the result from the study by Gullone et al.[22] However, a later study of adolescents in Australia show that risky behavior is on the increase among young women, particularly alcohol consumption and binge drinking. [25]

In the present study, we do not find the same patterns in risk judgement and behavior among the Swedish women and men when we compare our results with other studies, in particular the one by Gullone et al.[22] This is dependent on mainly three reasons. First, cultural differences may be present between Sweden and Australia. Second, gender differences may be based on socially constructed gender roles and gender stereotypes. In Bohlin and Erlandsson, [1] women judged risky behaviors as more risky than men but engaged in the same activities. This supports the result from the factor analysis which differs between women and men on judgement and behavior. Third, the translation of a questionnaire from one language to another may play a crucial part in the emerged results, even though severe precautions have been made to avoid language biases.

Hence, different factor structures appeared among men and women in the judgement scale. The six factors showed that some of the factors are relatively similar for young men and women, even though some items loaded differently, and that the factors for men are one less than those for women. A seven factor structure emerged in the behavior scale for women and factor 1 and 2 are relatively similar for both young men and women. Also, factor 1 has some common denominators with the first factor in the judgment scale (the factor called 3). The other factors are rather different for men and women and it is difficult to interpret the items both within and between groups. However, the factors for men appeared to be more in accordance to risk behavior factors as they are presented in the Gullone et al.[22] study; antisocial, thrill-seeking and reckless behavior, while the factors for women were not to the same degree. Overall, the factor structure in our Swedish sample is not similar either in the whole sample or the sample split on gender in comparison to the Australian sample. One explanation may be that women are expected to follow the norms of society and also do so when they judge risky behaviors. [1],[18],[20] However, the men's judgment also appeared to be influenced more by social norms than behavior. This is to be expected since women in Sweden engage in risky activities to the same extent as men even though they judge the activities as being more risky. However, it appears that men's behavior is more applicable to the traditional risk behavior scales like thrill-seeking and antisocial behaviors (e.g., Gullone et al.[22] ) than women's behavior. It seems like many risk-taking questionnaires are traditionally based on a male norm of behavior. This is also supported by the diverse factor structures that emerged for women and men in this study, especially concerning behavior. The difference in structures between judgement and behavior probably, at least for women, tells us more about norms in society than the adolescents' actual judgement. For both women and men the norms on how to behave in a feminine and masculine way respectively are restricted and strong. According to Deaux and Kite [16] and Witley and Ζgisdσttir, [17] people are expected to fit into stable gender roles and are not supposed to change between "feminine" and "masculine" expressions. This can explain why the judgement factors were more similar for women and men than behavior; social norms are strong for both women and men. However, women are expected to fit into the feminine role, but at the same time they are supposed to master traditionally male arenas in order to achieve the same opportunities as men.

According to these contradicting and somewhat confusing results the factors are not easily named, and maybe should not be named. In research in this area we tend to fall into traditional concepts of adolescent behavior and name factors or clusters accordingly. If we take a gender perspective into account as well as an existential view on adolescents, we need to reconceptualise how to interpret and statistically name factored and clustered risk behaviors. Bohlin [26] suggests that an alternative way of interpreting risk behaviors may be in social and existential terms, which not only take the negative aspects of risk taking into account, but also the positive aspects. Such double sided aspects could for example be; a social dimension of risk taking, concerning that the informants express and perceive feelings of expressiveness, individuality and accessibility; and an existential dimension of risk taking, concerning the informants' feelings of introspection, transcendence and conditional freedom. [1],[2]


  Conclusions Top


In general, traditional research has taken gender into account as a descriptive variable more than a theoretical starting point. Many results seem to fit men's experiences more than women's, something that may depend on the tendency of traditional theories on risk taking to be based on a male norm rather than a female norm and that a gender perspective has not been a prioritized tool in the analysis of risk taking. [1],[2] Along the journey of this research project, we have noticed that the inclusion of music and hearing risks have greatly contributed to the understanding of risk behavior in general, which stresses the need for continuing to use such an inclusive research perspective. In this study, as well as in our earlier studies, we have been able to confirm the existence of a relationship between traditional risks and hearing risks. This may be an important contribution both to the research on risk behavior as well as to the research on hearing and noise exposure. There is also a need for taking social and existential dimensions into account in the research on risk behavior and to reconceptualize stereotypical ideas about gender, class, culture and adolescents. It is a delicate task for the research in social psychology and in other areas to expand and develop new theoretical and empirical tools in the analysis of risk taking. Delicate, but important, especially concerning how to rethink the ways in which we are trying to prevent health risks among adolescents. We believe that the use of existential and gender theories could be one way of rethinking which tools are needed for preventing health risk behaviors. In this study, we use existential and gender perspectives, but we need to construct instruments that allow us to capture the existential dimension in the lives of adolescents. It is also important to try to develop instruments which consider that gender identity does matter, particularly our stereotypical images of what constitutes male and female behavior. In particular, we need to acknowledge the mixed feelings of threat and desire in risk taking among adolescents.


  Acknowledgments Top


The authors are grateful for the funding provided by Stinger foundation, The Swedish Association for the Hearing Impaired (HRF) and the department of Social and Behavioral Studies, University West.

 
  References Top

1.Bohlin MC, Erlandsson SI. Risk behaviour and noise exposure among adolescents. Noise Health 2007;9:55-63.  Back to cited text no. 1
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Correspondence Address:
M C Bohlin
University West, 461 86 Trollhättan, Sweden

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Source of Support: Stinger Foundation, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.82964

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