UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Perceptions of injury risk associated with booster seats and seatbelts : the ejection stereotype hypothesis Ishikawa, Takuro; Jiang, Andy; Brussoni, Mariana; Reyna, Valerie; Weldon, Rebecca; Bruce, Beth; Pike, Ian


When children do not have sufficient height or weight to use seatbelts, the straps tend to rest on the wrong places: the lap belt on their bellies and the shoulder belt across their necks. As a result, in the event of a motor vehicle crash, there may be injuries to internal organs and the spine. Thus, it is recommended that children use booster seats to ensure correct fit of the seatbelt. Unfortunately, research indicates that: (a) rates of booster seat use are low even in jurisdictions where it is mandatory, and (b) many parents believe that booster seats are not necessary. Using fuzzy-trace theory, we propose that injuries to children riding in automobiles are stereotypically (and incorrectly) seen as ejection related. This ejection stereotype undermines the perceived safety benefit of booster seats, because seatbelts alone can prevent ejection and, therefore, are thought to provide adequate protection. Interventions to promote booster seat use can be improved, if they include mechanisms to diffuse the ejection stereotype.

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