horizon wrote:So from the quote above and my own estimation we've got a significant difference in wearing levels between the UK and the Netherlands. AIUI one would normally expect much closer rates of wearing in the two countries should the decision be a personal one. Can it really be that the Dutch person picks up a cycle helmet, shakes his head and says "Not for me"; the British person picks up a cycle helmet and says "Yes! Just what I need!". I simply cannot believe that the Dutch and British are that different or that one nationality is genetically more stupid than the other. So the social/political environment must be part of their decision making - what is everyone else doing?
There are far bigger and more preposterous examples of national/regional Groupthink than this. According to where you are even within national or even metropolitan borders one might expect the prevailing attitudes towards people who have a different e.g. skin colour to be very different to somewhere really relatively close by, tolerant in one place and dreadfully biased in another. Not nearly so toxic but still a marked difference might be the attitude to littering in Geneva vs. London. The people are much the same but the prevailing attitudes they've grown up with tend to transfer to their outlook in many cases, and this might be good (keeping your environment clean), bad (sexism, racism etc.), or just different.
With Dutch and British attitudes to helmets, in NL it's the context of "everyone" gets about by bike and they know it's safe and normal and classless. and in the UK cycling is either a weird lifestyle choice for Enthusiasts who tend to have All The Gear or something for poor people, and the safety perception is firmly rooted in FUD. Cyclists are an outgroup in the UK rather than just People as they are in NL. Different cultures, different perceptions and values.
horizon wrote:Which begs the question: if a forum member says that they have made their decision (to wear a helmet) on their own, are they deluding themselves?
It'll vary on a case by case basis, but IME humans are rationalising animals far more than rational animals. We're very good at self delusion, because "I've thought it through and it's the Right Thing To Do" pleases our self image a lot more than "I've thought it through and realised I'm just doing what my gut tells me, but I'm going to do it anyway". I'm much better at spotting it in myself these days, and sometimes I'll change my mind and sometimes I'll just go with my gut, but at least not kid myself it's anything more as much as I used to.