Activity: Academic Talks or Presentations › Invited talk › Teaching
Health psychology is a relatively young field, but one which has made a number of important discoveries. Health psychologists utilise knowledge of psychological factors and the role they play health and illness to support those who are ill, promote healthier lifestyles and improve healthcare. In order to prevent behaviour which may impair health, researchers have long attempted to model the relationship between cognitive mediators (e.g. attitudes, intentions and beliefs) and health behaviour. Many of these so-called social cognition models view cognitive attributes as the primary mediator of behaviour. Therefore, in order to prevent risky or harmful behaviours, the focus is on changing the attitude, intention or belief to engage in that behaviour. This presentation will suggest that taking behaviour which occurs in complex settings back to be explained in terms of psychological functioning is limited. Not only have a number of social cognitive models been found to be lacking, but research focusing on the contexts in which certain health behaviours are conducted provide an interesting and arguably more meaningful insight into the behaviour. Using evidence from health, cognitive and social psychology, it will be suggested that health psychologists should re-consider the direct and unmediated relationship between an individual and their environment. By contextualising health psychology, it will be argued that researchers have access to a more robust theoretical perspective on behavioural determinants, while potentially contributing to policy initiatives which might make society healthier.