Author: Alan S. Bellack, Michel Hersen
Series: Comprehensive Clinical Psychology
The health behaviors examined have been many and varied; from health enhancing behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating, on the one hand, to avoidance of health harming behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, on the other. Each of these behaviors have immediate or long-term effects upon the individual’s health and are to varying extents within the individual’s control. Epidemiological studies reveal great variability in who performs these behaviors. The approaches taken to understanding such individual differences have been equally varied.
One can classify these approaches into those which examine factors intrinsic to the individual (e.g., demographics factors, personality, social support, cognition ) and those which examine factors extrinsic to the individual. This second group of approaches can be further divided into those based on incentive structures (e.g., taxing tobacco and alcohol, subsidizing sports facilities) and those based on legal restrictions (e.g., banning dangerous substances, financial penalties for not wearing seat-belts). The first approach (factors intrinsic to the individual) has received most attention from psychologists, with a particular focus on cognitive factors as the most important proximal determinants of behavior.
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