Understanding the role of self-identity in habitual risky behaviours: pedestrian road-crossing decisions across the lifespan

Carol Holland, Roslyn Hill, Richard Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-identity as a careful pedestrian has not been fully considered in previous work on predicting intention to cross the road, or actual crossing behaviour, in non-optimal situations. Evidence suggests that self-identity may be a better predictor than attitudes in situations where decision-making styles have become habitual ways to respond. This study compared contributions of self-identity and attitudes to the prediction of intentions in two situations differing in level of habitual crossing expectation, and to crossing behaviour. Three hundred and sixty-two adults (17–92 years) completed a questionnaire measuring self-identity, attitudes, intentions, experience, social identity variables (e.g. age, gender) and personal limitations (mobility). Two hundred and five participants also completed a road-crossing simulation. Self-identity and attitude were both shown as significant independent predictors of intention in both situations. However, self-identity was less effective as a predictor in the higher risk scenario, where intention to perform the behaviour was lower, and for participants aged >75 years who had lower intention across scenarios. Self-identity strongly predicted intention to cross, which in turn predicted behaviour, but self-identity did not directly predict behaviour. Self-identity was strongly predicted by age. Implications for theories of compensation in older age and for design and targeting of pedestrian safety education are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-685
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • self-identity
  • pedestrian
  • predicting intention
  • crossing behaviour
  • attitudes
  • decision-making styles
  • habitual response
  • prediction of intentions
  • habitual crossing expectation
  • intentions
  • experience
  • social identity
  • personal limitations
  • mobility
  • road-crossing simulation
  • pedestrian safety education


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