Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Jacobsen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Stark, Ph.D.


Tanning, Skin cancer, Body image, Sunbathing, Sun-protection


Understanding the motives for sunbathing and indoor tanning is an extremely important public health issue. Skin cancer rates have increased dramatically in recent years and UV exposure via sunbathing and utilization of sun lamps and tanning beds are considered important risk factors. Motives for sunbathing and tanning salon use have been thought to be related to appearance concerns, yet little research has examined the specific tan appearance attitudes that may contribute to use of these behaviors. Two studies were conducted with the aim of assessing distinct attitudes related to a tan appearance. In the first study items were created based on a review of the tanning literature and incorporation of constructs developed in the body image field, which were subsequently subject to exploratory factor analysis on 149 female university student sunbathers/tanning salon users. Six factors emerged from the exploratory factor analysis, subsequently labeled general attractiveness reasons for tanning, media influence, family and friends influence, physical fitness appearance reasons for tanning, acne-specific reasons for tanning, and skin aging concerns. In the second study we tested a higher-order factor model using confirmatory factor analysis on a separate sample of 281 female university student sunbathers/tanning salon users. Most of the fit indexes suggested adequate to good model-data fit. Moreover, the factors converged in the expected directions, with the general attractiveness and skin aging concerns factors being the best predictors of UV exposure and sun protection intentions among the appearance factors. The findings from these investigations should yield important information relevant to the development of novel prevention and early intervention programs geared toward the reduction of skin cancer risk.