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Social Psychology of Health : Key Readings

Rothman, Alexander J.(Edited by)Salovey, Peter(Edited by)
Part of the Key Readings in Social Psychology series
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Most people want to stay healthy. Few enjoy being sick. Given that health is such a universally shared value, one might think that people's thinking about health is easily understood, and that changing behaviours with health consequences should be relatively easy.

Of course, this not the case at all. For example, fewer than 50 per cent of sexually active college students use condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, and less than 60 per cent of women over the age of 50 seek annual screening mammography, despite its obvious value for the early detection of breast cancer and the intense publicity devoted to it.

The principles of social psychology provide a unique vantage point for understanding these paradoxes of health cognition and health behaviour.

This volume provides classic and contemporary theory and research in social psychology that sheds light on how people think about health and illness as well as their willingness to engage in health-relevant behaviours.

It begins by exploring mental representations. These personal construals and implicit theories can be linked to behaviour, and the second section of the volume looks at those links. People can react to new health information in different ways - with acceptance, defensiveness, or downright ignorance, and this volume next turns to research that can help us to understand these varied reactions.

Several sections of the volume consider the utility of classic social psychological theories and perspectives in understanding behaviour relevant to health and illness.

These include social influence, social comparison, pluralistic ignorance, social support, cognitive dissonance, message framing, and fear communication.

Attention is also directed to links between personality characteristics and health, such as those between hostility and heart disease, and confiding traumatic experiences and immune function.

A final section concludes with articles considering the broader social environment - including race, gender, and class - and its role in health and illness.

The volume also contains an introductory chapter by the editors providing a history of personality and social psychology's interest in health and illness. Together with overviews for each section, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading, the volume is a suitable text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on health psychology.

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Product Details
Psychology Press Ltd
1841690163 / 9781841690162
United Kingdom
432 p.
postgraduate /research & professional /undergraduate Learn More