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Health Psychology - Describe what psychologists have found out about lifestyles and health behaviour

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Health Psychology a) Describe what psychologists have found out about lifestyles and health behaviour. 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: > Perceived seriousness of health problem > Perceived susceptibility > 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. ...read more.


The studies found that behaviour intentions are related to low perceived seriousness as opposed to high, the studies suggested an association between low susceptibility (not high) and healthy behaviour. The HBM also carries other weaknesses, including its emphasis on the individual, neglect of social and environmental factors, neglect of emotional factors such as fear and denial and its focus on rational processing of information, for example do we really weigh up the pros and cons before eating an apple? Schwarzer further criticised the model in 1992. He said that within the model beliefs are described as occurring concurrently with no room for progress or change. In addition Leventhal argued that health related behaviour is due to the view of symptoms rather than to the individual factors as suggested by the model. Elements of the model may predict screening for hypertension, screening for cervical cancer, genetic screening, regular vigorous exercise , moderate alcohol use, improvement in diets or smoking cessation. Support for the theory of planned behaviour has been found by Brubaker and Wickersham in 1990 they tested the role of the theory's different sections in predicting testicular self-examination and suggested that views of the behavior, subjective norm and behavioral control were associated with the intent on performing the behavior. ...read more.


These studies backs up Weinsteins unrealistic optimism theory, he also created components which contribute to the theory. He argues that unrealistic optimism is cause by the lack of personal experience with the problem, belief that it is preventable by an individual action, belief that if the problem has not yet occurred it probably won't at any point in the future and lastly there is a belief that the problem is infrequent. There aren't any strong criticisms against the study but it does help us understand why people smoke. They don't see themselves getting cancer. People drink excessive alcohol and they bet but they can't see themselves getting addicted. c) Using psychological research to support your suggestion, describe one feature of a programme designed to encourage women to carry out breast self examination. The focus of bad behaviour usually related to giving up bad habits such as smoking, excessive drinking or a bad diet. But it is also essential that we generate new habits and carry out preventive actions. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. One in nine women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. For this reason it is quite important that women know how, when and why to carry out breast self examination. ...read more.

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