Do Social Norms Predict Equestrians' Likelihood of Using Safety Equipment?

Hathaway, Alexandra
Wood, Jay
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Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
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Auckland University of Technology

Equestrian sports carry a high risk of injury. Despite the well known risks carried by these activities, there are still many riders who choose to not utilise safety equipment when working with horses. The current study examined whether social norms or differences in personality traits influenced riders’ decision to use various types of safety equipment. An online questionnaire (N = 115) was used to investigate whether agreeance with descriptive norms, injunctive norms, or differences in sensation seeking and conscientiousness predicted the use of helmets, protective vests, or safety stirrups. Consistent with prior research, the study found descriptive norms and injunctive norms both influenced the proportion of use of various safety equipment. More specifically, descriptive norms predicted the proportion of helmet and safety stirrup use, while personal and peer injunctive norms predicted the proportion of safety vest use. Sensation seeking was only found to be a predictor of helmet use and did not correlate to the proportion of safety vest or safety stirrup use. Conscientiousness was not found to be a predictor of any variable. The findings are significant within the equestrian community as they contribute to the understanding of what influences safety equipment use, allowing for more informed interventions to increase safe practices within equestrian sport.

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