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Self-Affirmation Interventions to Change Health Behaviors


Schuz, B and Cooke, R and Schuz, N and Van Koningsbruggen, GM, Self-Affirmation Interventions to Change Health Behaviors, Behavior Change Research and Theory, Elsevier, L Little, E Sillence and A Joinson (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 87-114. ISBN 9780128026908 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.106/B978-0-12-802690-8.00006-2


Many messages that aim at changing peopleís health behaviors highlight the negative consequences of continuing to engage in current behaviors (insufficient physical activity and smoking). However, such messages are often less effective than desired because people respond defensively to threatening communication by ignoring or derogating it. In this chapter, we discuss how self-affirmation theory can assist both in understanding individual defensive responses and in improving the effectiveness of health messages. Self-affirmation theory poses that messages that highlight negative consequences of current behavior provoke defensive responses because they threaten a personís view of themselves as being good and adequate. However, the theory also poses that if people affirm an unrelated domain of their self-system, defensive responses decrease and more adaptive behavior ensues.

In this chapter, we provide an updated review of the evidence for self-affirmation effects on health behavior change, discuss circumstances under which self-affirmation might work better or worse, outline the psychological processes mediating self-affirmation effects and present some recommendations for the use of self-affirmation in interventions to change health behaviors.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:self-affirmation, behaviour change, intervention
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Schuz, B (Dr Benjamin Schuez)
UTAS Author:Schuz, N (Dr Natalie Schuez)
ID Code:112501
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-11-14
Last Modified:2018-05-10

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