Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 29 Issue 6 (June 1999), Pages 1111-1331

Real and Illusory Control Over Exposure to HIV in College Students and Gay Men (pages 1128-1150)

Reasons for unsafe sex were examined using an illusions of control framework. Heterosexual college students (N= 301) and gay men (N= 248) were surveyed regarding perceived control over exposure to HIV, of vulnerability to HIV, use of illusory control in chance situations, and real and illusory strategies for protection against HIV. As predicted, the use of illusory control in chance situations was associated with more illusory HIV protection in both samples. Illusory protection strategies were associated with feeling less vulnerable to HIV which was mediated by perceptions of control over exposure to HIV. Suggestions for intervention include providing information about the illusory nature of some protective strategies and a focus on failing to protect oneself from STDs.

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