Lifestyles And Health Behavior According To Psychologists

1874 words - 7 pages

Lifestyles and Health Behavior According to Psychologists

Psychologists have created a number of theories to explain why it is
that people continue to practice bad behaviours such as smoking, when
they are aware of the dangers involved. The health belief model
created by Becker and Rosenstock in 1984 describes that people will
only practice good behaviours such as visiting the doctor when making
assessments of:

Ø Perceived seriousness of health problem

Ø Perceived susceptibility

Ø Perceived costs and benefits.

For example the HBM predicts that an individual will only quit smoking
if she believes that she is likely to get lung cancer, that lung
cancer is a severe health threat, that the benefits of being a
non-smoker are high, the benefits of being a smoker are low. The HBM
also states that we need cues to action to act as a trigger, for
example an individual may quit smoking when she reads or hears about a
long-term smoker dying of lung cancer.

The theory of planned behaviour model states that you cannot predict
someone's behaviour simply by knowing about their attitudes, but you
need to know about their behavioural intention. Behavioural intentions
are predicted through three factors;

Ø Attitudes towards a behaviour (knowing the effects and outcomes of
the behaviour)

Ø Subjective norm (pressures and perceptions in society)

Ø Perceived behavioural control (considering external and internal
control factors relating to past behaviour when deciding if the
individual can carry out the particular behaviour.)

Again, when applied to smoking cessation; if an individual believed
that quitting smoking would improve their health and believed their
friends and family wanted them to quit and that they were capable of
quitting, then this would predict high intentions of the individual
giving up smoking.

The health locus of control is a term used to refer to an individual
perception of personal control over their behaviour. Some people have
an external locus of control meaning they believe they have little to
do with their health and well-being because it is all down to
situation factors, luck, fate and other people. Other people have
internal locus of control, they believe that their health and
well-being depends on the decisions they themselves make. So for
example if an external individual is urged to carry out protected sex
as opposed to unprotected they are unlikely to comply because they
believe that they are not responsible for their health.

An individuals unrealistic optimism is their inaccurate perception of
risk and susceptibility. The theory created by Weinstein in 1983
states that one reason why people continue to practice unhealthy
behaviours is because they don't see their own level of risk. They
don't believe it will ever actually happen...

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