542 // CHAPTER 14 // Health Psychology
we believe that others around us also support the change. The theory of
planned behavior incorporates these factors as well as our perceptions
of control over the behavior.
The stages of change model posits that personal change occurs in a
series of ve steps: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation/
determination, action/willpower, and maintenance. Each stage has its
own challenges. Relapse is a natural part of the journey toward change.
3 Resources for Effective Life Change
Motivation is an important part of sustaining behavioral change. Change
is more effective when people do it for intrinsic reasons (because they
want to) rather than extrinsic reasons (to gain rewards). Implementation
intentions are the speci c ways individuals plan to institute changes.
Social relationships are strongly associated with health and survival.
Social support refers to the aid provided by others to a person in need.
Support can take the form of tangible assistance, information, or emo-
tional support. Social support is strongly related to functioning and
coping with stress.
Religious faith is associated with enhanced health. One reason for
this connection is that religions often frown on excess and promote
healthy behavior. In addition, religious participation allows individuals
to bene t from a social group, and religion provides a meaning system
on which to rely in times of dif culty.
Personality characteristics related to positive health behaviors in-
clude conscientiousness, personal control, self-ef cacy, and optimism.
Conscientious individuals are likely to engage in healthy behaviors and
live longer. Personal control is associated with better coping with stress.
Self-ef cacy is the person’s belief in his or her own ability to master a
situation and produce positive outcomes. Optimism refers to a particular
explanatory style as well as to the inclination to have positive expecta-
tions for the future. Studies have shown that both of these types of opti-
mism relate to positive health outcomes.
4 Toward a Healthier Mind (and
Body): Controlling Stress
S t r e s s i s t h e r e s p o n s e o f i n d i v i d u a l s w h e n l i f e c i r c u m s t a n c e s t h r e a t e n
them and tax their ability to cope. Selye characterized the stress response
with his concept of a general adaptation syndrome (GAS), which has
three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
Chronic stress takes a toll on the body’s natural disease- ghting
abilities. Stress is also related to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
To kick the stress habit means remembering that stress is a product
of how we think about events in our lives. Taking control of our apprais-
als allows us to see potentially threatening events as challenges. Hardi-
ness is associated with thriving during stressful times.
The Type A behavior pattern, particularly the hostility component, is
associated with stressing out angrily when things are going badly. This
hostility leads to poor health outcomes. There is growing interest in the
Type D behavior pattern, seen in individuals who experience general-
ized and frequent distress, negative emotions, and social inhibition; re-
search has associated this pattern with an elevated risk of cardiovascular
problems. When a person is unable to manage stress alone, stress man-
agement programs provide options for relief.
5 Toward a Healthier Body (and
Mind): Behaving as If Your Life
Depends upon It
E x e r c i s e h a s m a n y p o s i t i v e p s y c h o l o g i c a l a n d p h y s i c a l b e n e ts. Tips for
increasing one’s activity level include starting small by making changes in
one’s routine to incorporate physical activity and keeping track of progress.
Overweight and obesity pose the greatest health risks to Americans
today. They can be largely avoided by eating right, which means select-
ing nutritious foods and maintaining healthy eating habits for a lifetime,
not just while on a diet. A combination of healthy eating and exercise is
the best way to achieve weight loss.
Despite widespread knowledge that smoking causes cancer, some
people still smoke. Methods of quitting include going cold turkey, using
a substitute source of nicotine, and seeking therapy. Quitting for good is
dif cult and usually takes more than one try. Usually a combination of
methods is the best strategy for quitting.
Practicing safe sex is another aspect of health behavior of interest to
health psychologists. Condoms help prevent both unwanted pregnancy
and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Interven-
tions to promote condom use are most successful when they include
making condom use sexy, promoting contraceptive skills and self-
ef cacy, and encouraging positive attitudes about condoms.
6 Psychology and Your Good Life
Psychology is all about you. This book has aimed to show the relevance
of psychology to your health and wellness and to help you appreciate
the many, and deep, connections between this comparatively new
science and your life.
health psychology, p. 514
behavioral medicine, p. 514
health behaviors, p. 515
theory of reasoned action, p. 516
theory of planned
behavior, p. 516
stages of change model, p. 516
relapse, p. 518
implementation intentions, p. 520
social support, p. 521
general adaptation syndrome
(GAS), p. 527
h y p o t h a l a m i c - p i t u i t a r y - a d r e n a l
axis (HPA axis), p. 527
psychoneuroimmunology, p. 527
Type A behavior pattern, p. 529
Type B behavior pattern, p. 529
Type D behavior pattern, p. 529
cognitive appraisal, p. 530
coping, p. 530
problem-focused coping, p. 531
coping, p. 531
hardiness, p. 532
program, p. 532
exercise, p. 534
aerobic exercise, p. 534
sexually transmitted infection
(STI), p. 539
acquired immune de ciency
syndrome (AIDS), p. 539
K E Y T E R M S
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