Maternal and child reports of behavioral compensation in response to safety equipment usage

David DiLillo, George Tremblay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess maternal and child risk compensation behaviors in response to several commonly used safety measures. Methods: We administered a previously validated self-report measure of risk tolerance to a total of 151 mothers and their children in grades 3-7. Mothers indicated the level of risk they would permit their child to assume; children were questioned regarding the degree of physical risk they would typically assume while unsupervised by an adult. Participating families were randomly assigned to conditions in which safety equipment either was or was not present during assessments of risk tolerance. Results: Mothers who viewed the stimulus materials depicting the use of safety precautions reported significantly higher levels of tolerance for risky behavior on the part of their children than did mothers who viewed identical materials without the safety precautions. No significant differences in estimated risk taking emerged between children in the two experimental conditions. Conclusions: These data may reveal a compensatory mechanism by which parents escalate their threshold for acceptable risk behavior in the presence of safety precautions for their children. Such tendencies have the potential to offset some of the protection provided by the use of safety equipment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Risk behavior
  • Risk taking
  • Risk tolerance
  • Safety measures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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