Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

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Mike Sales
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Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 4:44pm

Wearing a cycle helmet may encourage people to feel safer and could therefore hamper their ability to make decisions related to risk-taking, according to a new study from Germany.
The laboratory-based study was carried out by researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, in co-operation with the Canadian University of Victoria, and has been published as an open-access article in the journal Pschophysiology
(link is external)
.
It references research including a 2016 study, also laboratory-based, by Dr Ian Walker and Dr Tim Gamble of the University of Bath which concluded that wearing a cycle helmet leads to a greater propensity to take risks.


https://road.cc/content/news/265769-study-finds-wearing-cycle-helmet-may-diminish-ability-assess-risk

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Wanlock Dod » 22 Aug 2019, 4:55pm

...we conclude that wearing a bike helmet is associated with lower cognitive control and lower sensitivity to risk differences.

LollyKat
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby LollyKat » 22 Aug 2019, 5:10pm

Remember the guy on here a few years ago that crashed because he was riding no hands on a windy day eating a sandwich? His helmet "saved his life" and he vigorously encouraged all the rest of us to wear one too. :roll:

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Cugel
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Cugel » 22 Aug 2019, 5:31pm

Here is the telling conclusion of this study:

It is stunning to observe how suggestions can influence brain activity,” she said. “In the hypnotic state, participants are very open to suggestions, for example, the suggestion of a safe place.

“Wearing a bike helmet can also be interpreted as a suggestion on a subconscious level. The current study shows that even such a subtle intervention significantly affects decision-making processes"
.

In short, wearing a helmet (or any other safety aide) produces a subconscious (i.e. not controlled by the conscious human) assumption that one is safer. So, even if you are conscious of this effect and tell yourself you won't take more risks just because you wear a helmet, your subconscious steps in anyway and trumps this awareness......

***
The combination of the cultural/marketing suggestion that helmets make you safe, along with your subconscious assumption that this is so, is controlling the situation - a situation in which you will take more risks even if you think you won't.

Feel free to pick holes in this logic.

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mjr
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby mjr » 22 Aug 2019, 5:37pm

Is there any reason to think this will make a difference to irrational helmet users when the work of Walker et al didn't?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 5:41pm

mjr wrote:Is there any reason to think this will make a difference to irrational helmet users when the work of Walker et al didn't?


Obviously the irrational users will not change their minds.
I have known wearers assess the evidence and change their minds. These tend to have a scientific training.
I do have a hope that an increasing weight of evidence will make a difference for some.

landsurfer
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby landsurfer » 22 Aug 2019, 5:43pm

It won't make any difference as helmets are a marketing driven product .... not a safety device .... like many others on here i have posted the phrase ..Risk Compensation ... many times ......

For reasons of 3rd party marketing influence I have 3 helmets ..... and wear none ....
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Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 5:47pm

landsurfer wrote:For reasons of 3rd party marketing influence I have 3 helmets ..... and wear none ....


I once won a helmet for a letter to a cycling mag. I sent it back, saying I had no use for it.

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Wanlock Dod » 22 Aug 2019, 5:54pm

mjr wrote:Is there any reason to think this will make a difference to irrational helmet users when the work of Walker et al didn't?

No, helmeteers will have no difficulty in dismissing a study which is not actually about cycling.

Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 5:57pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:No, helmeteers will have no difficulty in dismissing a study which is not actually about cycling.


So wearing a helmet affects our ability to play cards? And people get paid to come up with this stuff?



A comment from Road CC.

poetd
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby poetd » 22 Aug 2019, 6:00pm

So riding in traffic at rush hour as a commuter is the same as sitting and playing computer games after being told the helmet is only there to monitor eye movements?

I look forward to this study being used as concrete proof helmets are not safe!

:lol:

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mjr
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby mjr » 22 Aug 2019, 6:05pm

poetd wrote:So riding in traffic at rush hour as a commuter is the same as sitting and playing computer games after being told the helmet is only there to monitor eye movements?

No, but both involve assessing risks, don't they?

poetd wrote:I look forward to this study being used as concrete proof helmets are not safe!

:lol:

That would be an example of the "irrational" I mentioned earlier, then?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 6:06pm

poetd wrote:So riding in traffic at rush hour as a commuter is the same as sitting and playing computer games after being told the helmet is only there to monitor eye movements?

I look forward to this study being used as concrete proof helmets are not safe!

:lol:


This study is an interesting indication of how helmet wearing can affect brain working even in situations where the risk is not physical.
There is a lot of population level evidence that helmets do not reduce head injuries in real life situations.
It is good to investigate why this is. Risk compensation is notoriously difficult to observe.
Its is also interesting that the experimenters had to disguise the purpose of the experiment. This sort of process is difficult to observe when the subject is aware of the object.

poetd
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby poetd » 22 Aug 2019, 6:13pm

Mike Sales wrote:
This study is an interesting indication of how helmet wearing can affect brain working even in situations where the risk is not physical.
There is a lot of population level evidence that helmets do not reduce head injuries in real life situations.
It is good to investigate why this is. Risk compensation is notoriously difficult to observe.
Its is also interesting that the experimenters had to disguise the purpose of the experiment. This sort of process is difficult to observe when the subject is aware of the object.



Good post.
Though my point was really about how the situation also affects how we judge risk.

If I'm sat in a comfy lab, I'm not feeling in much danger and so might be more susceptible to unconscious biases through lack of awareness of the risk due to set and setting.

When I'm cycling through the City centre dodging traffic and idiot pedestrians, I'm on full risk alert, helmet or no.
In that situation I'd venture that the effect of this unconscious bias is lessened.

Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Aug 2019, 6:17pm

poetd wrote:When I'm cycling through the City centre dodging traffic and idiot pedestrians, I'm on full risk alert, helmet or no.
In that situation I'd venture that the effect of this unconscious bias is lessened.



In a situation where there is a real physical risk which you clearly believe is mitigated with a helmet, why do you think the effect is lessened, not increased, as might be thought?
I apologise if my assumption that you generally wear polystyrene is mistaken.