Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Adoption of Health Behavior
Craig K. Ewart
Health behaviors are personal acts that raise or lower the risk of illness or injury. Behaviors that are performed predictably and often are called habits . Psychologists seek to understand health habits by viewing them as organized systems , composed of highly routinized sequences of actions, consequences, and reactions that lead to a predictable result. For example, dietary habits involve frequently practiced routines, each of which consists of a familiar sequence of behaviors, such as shopping for groceries, planning and preparing meals, and enjoying food in family or other settings. These routines can be viewed as consisting of functional feedback loops in which each behavior in the sequence is strengthened by the consequences it produces, and those consequences, in turn, then set the stage for the next behavior. In the present example, the act of leaving work and stopping at a grocery store on the way home is reinforced by ...