Megan L Robbins

Megan L Robbins
The University of Arizona | UA · Department of Psychology

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109
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Publications

Publications (109)
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Extensive research suggests that short-term meditation interventions may hold therapeutic promise for a wide range of psychosocial outcomes. In response to calls to subject these interventions to more methodologically rigorous tests, a randomized controlled trial tested the effectiveness of a mindfulness meditation intervention and a com...
Preprint
Sighing is a common nonverbal everyday behavior thought to signal the experiencing of negative emotions. Prior research from a small-scale study suggests that observed daily expressions of sighing is associated with subclinical depression (Robbins et al., 2011). This paper replicates and extends these findings, hypothesizing that individual differe...
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Grateful people report better psychological, social, and physical well‐being, and experimental evidence indicates that prompting people to express gratitude consistently boosts psychological and social well‐being. Thus far, experimental evidence linking gratitude to physical health is limited, but accumulating correlational and prospective evidence...
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Social relationships are associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality and morbidity, and this lower risk is usually attributed to the health‐protective effects of social support, or the aid and care that others provide in times of need. Social relationships can also be a source of social influence, or social control, as people monitor ea...
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Social norms powerfully influence behavior broadly and health behavior specifically. This entry focuses on the roles of descriptive and injunctive norms in both influencing and motivating change in health behaviors. First, descriptive and injunctive norms are defined and distinguished from other normative constructs. We next describe research that...
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Many policies are enacted by the different levels of government in the United States in order to ensure a healthy population. The creators of these policies hope that they will help to also decrease the burden of disease. A successful example of this is tobacco‐related policies, which have significantly decreased tobacco use behaviors. There were s...
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This entry focuses on the relationship between rumination and physical health. Following a review of prominent theoretical models of rumination, we present a conceptual model outlining potential pathways through which rumination may impact health. Specifically, this entry delineates the role of rumination in cardiovascular outcomes, neuroendocrine...
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We provide an overview of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods for the psychosocial study of health. We first present historical underpinnings and key defining characteristics of EMA followed by a description of the most prominent advantages of EMA over traditional retrospective assessments, several measurement considerations, and a discus...
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Emotions provide information that usually carries consequences for people's health‐related goals. Our ability to regulate emotion once evoked—to downplay, calibrate, or otherwise modulate them—can weigh heavily in how we experience and respond to stress and, in turn, our susceptibility to illness and disease. This encyclopedia entry first describes...
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Some psychologists believe that resilience involves remaining the same despite the occurrence of stressful circumstances. In contrast, hardiness is the personality pattern of attitudes and strategies that, together, help one turn stressful circumstances from potential disasters into personal growth and advantage instead. There is more than 40 years...
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Social‐evaluative threat (SET) occurs when an important aspect of the self could be judged by others. SET can occur in many interpersonal contexts in daily life and can be experimentally modeled in laboratory stressor paradigms (e.g., public speaking stressors). A number of studies have demonstrated that SET can elicit increases in the stress hormo...
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Dispositional optimism refers to the generalized and stable expectation that future outcomes will be positive in nature. Ways of assessing dispositional optimism are discussed, and research relating dispositional optimism to physical health is presented. The review highlights the beneficial associations that have been found between optimism and bot...
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Stress in the lives of women during pregnancy has adverse implications for pregnancy health and for birth and infant outcomes. During pregnancy, women are at increased risk of mood disorders, which also adversely affect birth outcomes. Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and lack of close, well‐functioning interpersonal relationships can also have...
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The prototype‐willingness model is a modified dual‐process model of health behavior, with a focus on adolescents' health risk. It is based on an assumption that health behavior, especially among adolescents, is often not reasoned or planned but, instead, is a reaction to risk‐conducive social situations. Two decisional pathways are proposed in the...
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Patient satisfaction has been linked to a multitude of health outcomes and variables within the physician–patient relationship and clinical care context. The current chapter will explore the successful measurement and assessment of patient satisfaction, as well as key findings within patient satisfaction. A number of correlates of patient satisfact...
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Recent scientific discoveries in personality and health psychology have elucidated the causal ties between individual differences and health that have been observed for centuries. The use of the Big Five personality framework—conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism—in a biopsychosocial context reveals core relevant...
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Counterfactual thoughts contrast reality to an imagined alternative: “what might have been” had some action or circumstance been other than it really was. Counterfactuals are a common element of daily thought and play a varied role in emotional experience and decision making and thus have both negative and positive impact on emotional, physical, an...
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Enhancing health protective behaviors and decreasing health risk behaviors can substantially reduce the risk of chronic diseases while increasing life expectancy and quality. Thus, interventions to change health and risk behaviors are clearly warranted, but designing and conducting such interventions is a complex endeavor. The present work highligh...
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As a result of the large and increasing flow of international migrants, scholarly interest in acculturation, and its links with positive and negative indicators of psychosocial functioning, has substantially increased over the last few decades. This entry reviews contemporary models of acculturation, the role of acculturation in substance use among...
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Expressive writing (EW) is a structured writing technique that encourages the expression or disclosure of one's deepest thoughts and feelings about stressful or traumatic events. EW has been shown to improve health, both psychological and physical functioning, although benefits are not universal. In this chapter we review EW research, focusing on e...
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Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death globally, but traditional risk factors such as family history and unhealthy lifestyle collectively account for ≤75% of new cases annually, suggesting that other factors are at play in predicting CHD outcome. The aim of this entry is to review the quality of the scientific evidence for stres...
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Self‐esteem is a central aspect of the self‐concept that develops during childhood and adolescence. Yet most people do not know that self‐esteem also shapes people's health by influencing psychological, physical, and social well‐being. The authors detail two dominant models that have emerged to explain these connections. First, the resource model p...
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We describe the cognitive processes, illness‐specific prototypes, and deep‐level schemata (acute/episodic/chronic) that generate the mental representations (illness and treatment representations) guiding people's selection, performance, and evaluation of medically prescribed treatments or self‐selected actions to prevent and control illness threats...
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Although historically viewed as the outcomes of inert treatments, placebo and nocebo effects represent the component of medical treatment effects resulting from psychological factors. Researchers have found evidence for placebo and nocebo effects in both classic and contemporary medicine. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are required to account...
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This entry considers the role of trauma in physical health outcomes. First, trauma is defined, the systems in which trauma may play a role in health are discussed, and the direct and indirect mechanisms underlying these effects are described. Finally, we consider potential interventions and other factors that may protect individuals against the del...
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Uncertainty is pervasive in medicine and healthcare and can present significant challenges for laypeople, patients, healthcare providers, and health policy makers. This entry provides a concise overview of the different types of health‐related uncertainty, ways in which people respond to uncertainty, and approaches to managing uncertainty, illustra...
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In this chapter, we argue for the importance of employing naturalistic observation methods in research on social factors underlying health and disease. We review existing field observation methods and highlight the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) as an innovative yet by now well‐validated tool for the unobtrusive (acoustic) observation of r...
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Selective exposure describes the preference individuals demonstrate for viewpoint consistent information relative to viewpoint inconsistent information. Selective exposure in the domain of health is particularly concerning in light of the deleterious effects it may have on health‐related decision making and health outcomes. Here, we discuss researc...
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Health messages primarily designed to raise awareness without considering the complexity of behavior change are deemed to have limited impact on individual actions and decision making. Message tailoring is a health communication strategy for disseminating theoretically informed individualized recommendations, created through a pre‐assessment of an...
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The primary goal of this chapter on health correlates and consequences of social comparison is to highlight the major contributions that social comparison theory has made to health psychology. To achieve this aim, this chapter will provide a brief overview of social comparison theory, highlight specific scientific developments related to health beh...
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For decades, researchers across disciplines in the social and health sciences have sought to create theories of health behavior change that can be used to promote healthful change and inform intervention design and implementation. And although theory and research have made great progress in elucidating the predictors and processes affecting positiv...
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This entry describes direct‐to‐consumer (DTC) testing in the context of genetic testing. Our coverage first includes variables that increase intentions in (or uptake of) DTC genetic testing such as demographics and perceived benefits or barriers. Next, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes associated with DTC genetic testing are described....
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The precaution adoption process model (PAPM) is a theory for understanding how people come to take actions to prevent illness, injury, or other types of harm. Its underlying assumption is that people must pass through a series of six qualitatively different stages on the path from ignorance to action (plus one stage that does not lead to action). T...
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People are unrealistically optimistic about future health outcomes, believing that they are less likely to experience adverse health outcomes relative to their peers and relatively to objective indicators of what is likely to occur. In this entry we distinguish between different types of unrealistic optimism. We also review three broad causes of un...
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The current entry describes the nature of chronic illnesses and associated stresses along with major coping theories and what it means to “adapt.” The state of the science on individual, dyadic, and family level coping with chronic illness is presented. The relationships between coping and illness adaptation, both positive and negative, are reviewe...
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We review the many ways in which romantic relationship processes are connected to physical health. First, we discuss how being in a romantic relationship (especially when that relationship is high in quality) predicts better health. Second, we examine the health correlates of attachment style, which captures the extent to which people perceive thei...
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Behavior maintenance is crucial to sustaining one's health, yet researchers consistently find that individuals have difficulty sustaining health behavior over time. This entry outlines the importance of maintaining health behaviors over time, describes the challenges associated with operationalizing maintenance, considers how maintenance is operati...
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Close relationships have important implications for physical health and well‐being. However, not everyone approaches relationships in the same way. In this entry, we discuss how a person's attachment orientation, or characteristic approach toward close relationships, is associated with health outcomes. First, we briefly review the state of the curr...
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According to self‐affirmation theory, people are highly motivated to protect their sense of being morally and adaptively adequate (“self‐integrity”). Threats to self‐integrity can be reduced by self‐affirmation (acts that manifest one's moral or adaptive adequacy), even in domains of self‐perception that are unrelated to the threat. Research into h...
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Social relationships play an important role in psychological and physical health, yet the specific relationship processes that underlie these broader associations are not well understood. One factor that may play an important role is the accuracy of interpersonal perceptions: the extent to which an individual's states and traits are accurately perc...
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Social justice is understood by many as the extent to which resources, opportunities, benefits, and burdens are allocated fairly across a society. In health and medical contexts, these allocations readily encompass access to healthcare goods and services, as well as the distribution of desirable and undesirable health outcomes across various social...
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One of the seemingly contradictory findings in health psychology is the paradox that men have higher mortality rates but women have higher morbidity rates; that is, men die younger than women, but women are sicker than men. There are pervasive sex differences in psychological and physical health. In addition to outlining these differences, this enc...
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Adherence determines the effectiveness of a treatment or medication plan aimed at providing individuals with optimal health. In contrast, nonadherence occurs when a patient fails to follow the treatment plan by either intentional or unintentional nonadherence. Nonadherence rates vary across diseases, but, on average, 50% of patients are nonadherent...
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Coping takes place over the course of daily life, yet measures of coping have not always reflected this. This entry discusses how methodology has shaped what we know about coping and what we have learned so far about everyday coping behavior. Each type of coping research method contributes a unique piece of information about everyday coping: retros...
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Conflicting health information is increasing in amount and visibility. The controversies surrounding prostate cancer screening guidelines and the risks and benefits of human papillomavirus vaccinations are two high‐profile examples that show how conflicting information can have serious implications for the public, health professionals, and policy m...
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In the following chapter, we consider the concept of disease‐specific worry—a combination of negative thoughts and feelings associated with potential disease outcomes. Relative to other concerns in daily life (e.g., money), people report worrying about disease less often, and reported worry levels depend on the specific disease in question. Cardiov...
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Self‐regulation plays an important role in health promotion and illness prevention. This section focuses on two concepts central to the study of self‐regulation and health: goal setting and goal striving. Goal setting encompasses processes of goal adoption (e.g., its relationship to the self), motivation (e.g., consequences of intrinsic and extrins...
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Awaiting health news, such as the results of a diagnostic medical test, is often a distressing experience for patients. As with nonmedical waiting periods, anxiety and rumination can make it difficult for patients to navigate their day‐to‐day lives until the uncertainty surrounding their health is resolved. Although the intensity of these negative...
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This entry describes the assessment of physical behavior in everyday life, an important subdomain of behavior. Ambulatory activity monitoring can compensate some shortcomings of self‐report methods and is applicable to various research questions in clinical and health psychology. Due to technological developments, activity monitors based on acceler...
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This article traces the origin and evolution of the health belief model, a behavior change framework that has been and is still widely used throughout the world. The health belief model is the basis of or is incorporated into interventions to increase knowledge of health challenges, enhance perceptions of personal risk, encourage actions to reduce...
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When making decisions about their health and well‐being, people often try to anticipate how happy or unhappy a potential outcome will make them. The greater the predicted emotional impact, the more effort and resources people devote to attaining a positive outcome or avoiding a negative one. Thus, predicting emotion, known as “affective forecasting...
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Temptations are stimuli in one's immediate environment that prompt thoughts, feelings, and behavior that are contrary to one's goals and values. Temptations rest at the heart of self‐control dilemmas—decisions that require choosing between smaller‐immediate and larger‐distal outcomes. Successful self‐control requires overcoming temptations, advanci...
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Positive affect (PA) has been shown to have many health benefits. Investigating this PA–health relationship requires refined knowledge of how to measure and conceptualize both PA and health. Understanding these complex issues allows us to study how PA influences health outcomes such as longevity/mortality, morbidity, and survival. Indeed, PA has be...
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Messages about health can be framed to emphasize what might be gained from performing a behavior (gain framed) or what might be lost by failing to perform a behavior (loss framed). The frame of a message can significantly influence its persuasiveness, but the optimal frame depends on characteristics of the target behavior, audience, and message con...
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This entry reviews key theory and evidence of social influences on stress‐related neuroendocrine activity, with a focus on the autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, and activity during basal conditions in response to challenges like laboratory stressors. We review evidence linking positive aspects of social relationships...
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Health literacy, a distinct concept from literacy, is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. In this entry, we examine the definition of health literacy, how to measure health literacy, predictors of health literacy, and the cost of poor health literacy to so...
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Thriving refers to subjective and objective success—feeling and functioning well—across multiple domains of life (e.g., physical, mental, cognitive, social, functional, economic). It goes beyond success at a single point in time, as well‐being is dynamic in nature, and is affected by numerous factors, including one's personality, habitual behaviors...
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The rhetoric surrounding diet and obesity focuses on the individual—individuals exert control over their diet, and these choices directly impact a person's risk for obesity. However, social, economic, and psychological factors shape our eating and diet choices. In this entry we review these factors, describing the connections between diet and obesi...
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Medical screening detects disease or disease risk among apparently healthy individuals. Screening is a broad public phenomenon, with long‐standing efforts for universal screening driven by federal agencies and private medical organizations. This entry targets the main social factors that relate to screening uptake, among them social norms, close in...
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Risk perception or people's judgment of future outcomes that may occur if they or other people follow a given course of action may come about either through an analytical or through an experiential process. The analytical mode involves deliberatively and systematically taking into the various dimensions of the risk, such as the likelihood of events...
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Marital dissolution is associated with a range of negative physical and emotional health outcomes, including increased risk for early death. This entry begins by summarizing basic epidemiological findings on health‐relevant outcomes of divorced and separated adults. We then consider the candidate physiological (e.g., cardiovascular and immunologica...
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Religion and spirituality (R/S) continue to be important aspects of life for individuals worldwide that carry the possibility of being associated with or influencing health outcomes. Research evidence suggests a modest beneficial relationship for R/S with health. Plausible mechanisms linking R/S and health include social support, engagement in heal...
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Changing health‐related attitudes and behaviors is an integral aspect of promoting health. In this entry, we begin by examining the ways in which external sources promote health attitude and behavior change through characteristics of a message and the ways individuals process these messages. We then explore the role of implicit attitudes in health...
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Self‐control failure is a potent predictor of unhealthful behaviors such as alcohol use, overeating, and cigarette smoking, which can evolve into addictions if they persist over time. Self‐control failure has previously been theorized as a dual‐process phenomenon in which cognitive and emotional processes are separate. However, building upon eviden...
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Bereavement is the period after the death of a loved one. This entry covers current theory as to why grief happens during bereavement, based primarily on attachment theory and how the grief process unfolds, using the dual‐process model, and empirically based trajectories over time. Failure to adapt, called complicated grief or persistent complex be...
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Among the numerous reasons for extant disparities in health, one potential source concerns the existence of prejudice and stereotyping, which research suggests may influence clinicians' treatment of and interactions with patients. This chapter reviews literature, largely in the field of psychology, that documents stereotyping and prejudice in healt...
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This entry presents a framework for intervening with implicit processes to promote health behavior change. Three approaches are delineated. Context change interventions alter features of the setting in order to simplify decisions or install prompts. Training interventions aim to modify impulsive responses or strengthen reflective control over impul...
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Decades of research have examined the relationship between social isolation and health. In this entry, we discuss the impact of social isolation on physical health, mental health, and mortality. We also outline some potential behavioral, psychological, and biological mechanisms behind these relationships. Finally, we discuss some interventions that...
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This entry offers a brief overview of conceptualizations of self‐awareness and their impact on understanding health and health risk behavior. The original objective self‐awareness theory is first presented along with theories it has inspired and implications for understanding self‐regulation. Discussion then focuses on the role of self‐awareness in...
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Medical decision making includes decisions in medical, policy, or everyday settings that impact individual and public health. Compared with other types of decisions, medical decision making frequently involves risk and uncertainty, difficult trade‐offs, information overload, decisions about future outcomes, and interdependent behaviors, as well as...
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The terror management health model (TMHM) integrates social psychology research on how individuals respond to reminders of their mortality and applies it to decision making in health contexts, where death thoughts are likely to be activated. Specifically, the TMHM predicts when individuals will engage in behaviors that benefit or harm their health...
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Although learning health information can prove critical for health promotion, people sometimes opt to avoid learning such information. In this entry, we review and discuss health information avoidance research. We first examine the prevalence of health information avoidance and review demographic and personality predictors of health information avo...
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This chapter reviews models of personality and coping, explores relationships between them, and discusses how they influence mental and physical health outcomes. Aspects of personality outlined include the five‐factor model, optimism, and expectancy‐value motivational processes. Subsets of coping responses are addressed, including problem‐focused v...
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Sleep is not only a critical health outcome influenced by social factors but also itself a powerful factor that influences social and health behavior. In the first half of this chapter, we summarize the health implications of sleep and outline how sleep is impacted by social factors, namely, how the daily rhythm of the sleep–wake cycle is often ent...
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The ability to understand the fundamental causes of public health problems and develop interventions to address those problems is important to a range of researchers involved in the study of health psychology. Two of the most widely tested models of this nature are the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior. The theory of reas...
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Social support has consistently been shown to be beneficial for both physiological and psychological health; however the benefits of social support vary greatly depending on how it is defined and measured. Having social ties is consistently linked to lower mortality and better mental health, but specific instances of support are often associated wi...
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The profound connection between geography and health can be divided into two categories: indirect, where geography functions as a proxy for demographic differences between areas, such as differences in age structure, race, and ethnicity, and direct, where there is a causal link between a region's geography and the health of its population. Direct g...
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In their efforts to understand and communicate about abstract concepts related to health (e.g., cancer, recovery), people often represent them metaphorically in terms of superficially unrelated bodily states and experiences that are more concrete and familiar (e.g., physical combat, walking along paths). This entry draws on qualitative and experime...
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Health behaviors are positive or negative in valence and are associated with an individual's overall health. There are two types of health behaviors: health‐promoting behaviors and health‐compromising behaviors. Personality traits, particularly the Big Five, show robust associations with both types of health behaviors. The pattern of associations b...
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Meta‐analytic evidence indicates that quality social relationships are linked to reduced risk of mortality. Although most of the prior work does not separate out different types of relationships, recent research suggests friendships may be particularly health relevant. In this entry, we provide a general overview on links between friendships and he...
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Coping strategies are the thoughts and behaviors used to manage the internal and external demands of a stressful situation. In this chapter, we describe the coping process, some of the ways coping strategies are categorized, and some of the factors associated with effective coping. Contextual factors such as the nature of the stressful situation, t...