Health Behavior and Health Psychology

When the harmful effects of cigarette smoking were discovered in the 20th century and new regulations forced U.S. tobacco companies to place warnings on cigarette packages, it was thought that the increase in information and awareness would create an extremely sharp decline in smoking. While smoking has declined from about 42% in 1965 to 20% in 2009, this is still a staggering statistic (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Why would educated consumers still choose to engage in a behavior they know is harmful? The truth is that there are many complicating factors and reasons why it may be difficult for persons to change their behavior. Health psychology attempts to understand these motivating factors and use awareness of them to facilitate positive behavior change.

There are many subgroups in any population; each has unique issues and attributes that must be considered when planning for behavioral change. Some groups may readily come to mind, such as various cultural, ethnic, or racial groups. It is important to realize, however, that there are many other groups, such as ones based on disabilities (e.g., deaf, blind, physical or mental disabilities), gender, age (e.g., children, adolescents, young adults, middle aged, elderly), sexual orientation, and occupation (e.g., students, police, teachers, emergency workers, grocery clerks, physicians).

choose one negative health behavior and consider a group that exhibits that behavior. Consider why it may be difficult for individuals within this group to change this behavior and how health psychology might be used to address some of these difficulties. Written a description of the negative health behavior you chose and the population you identified for which this may be an issue. Then explain three reasons why it may be difficult for the population to change that behavior. Finally, explain how health psychology may be used to address one of the difficulties you identified. Be specific and provide examples.