If people know that excessive exposure to UV rays causes cancer, why do they still insist on grilling themselves? Health psychologists would love to know the answer so they could help curb the growing rates of skin cancer. The obvious answer is that people think that tanned skin makes them look more attractive, but this is not the whole story.
Research has suggested that UV rays provide a relaxing effect through an endorphin rush. Building on this, new research asks whether tanning might actually be addictive. In questioning 145 beachgoers in the US, researchers used models only slightly modified from those used to describe substance-related disorders like drug addiction.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study’s authors argue that thinking of tanning as a form of addiction may help to design better ways of discouraging excessive tanning.