A number of studies show how different social groups express heterogeneous evaluations about the meaning of "risk" and the nature of the acceptable conducts. From a cultural perspective, the current study tests the hypothesis that subjective cultures in terms of which people interpret their role and their social environment affect the magnitude of the risk perceived related to different kinds of behaviours: substance (alcohol, hard drugs, marijuana or nicotine) consumption, internet use and gambling. The study involved 198 bachelor degree students from South-East Italy. Respondents were asked to assess the risk related to each of the target behaviours, in three domains: health, relationships and social approval/stigma. Principal Components Analyses allowed to identify two factorial dimensions for each domain: as regards the health, respondents express different evaluations of the risk related to substance use or specific behaviours; as regard the relationships, the differentiation concerns socialized and not socialized behaviours; as regards social approval, the differentiation concerns licit and illicit behaviours. The questionnaire on the Interpretation of the Social Environment (Mossi and Salvatore, 2011) was used to detect the subjective cultures. The Analysis of Multiple Correspondence allowed to identify the two principal dimensions of sense which organize them. Finally, Kendall correlations were applied to analyse the linkage between the components of risk rating and the components of subjective cultures. The results provide support for the idea that cultural differences in the way of evaluating the social environment are related to a different evaluation of the risk related to different kind of hazardous behaviours. The Implications for strategies of intervention will be discussed.
Keywords: Subjective cultures, social environment, risk evaluation, hazardous behaviours