Persuading and Motivating Positive Health Behaviors

Leslie R. Martin, Kelly B. Haskard-Zolnierek and M. Robin DiMatteo

in Health Behavior Change and Treatment Adherence

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195380408
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199864454 | DOI:
Persuading and Motivating Positive Health Behaviors

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This chapter explores the factors that influence people to initially adopt, and then to pursue, a health-related goal. These include things such as social comparisons, emotions (e.g., fear or inspiration), logical reasoning, pressure from others, and a sense of self-efficacy. The most appropriate uses of upward and downward comparisons are examined, and the importance of one’s sense of competence and self-esteem when setting goals is discussed. The elements of persuasive messages (and messengers) are described, along with suggestions for how healthcare providers might make their own communications with patients more compelling. Recognizing teachable moments is important, as is knowing the unique characteristics of the patient in order to target persuasive messages most effectively. Factors that influence perseverance, such as expectations, optimism, self-efficacy, social support, and perceptions of benefits and costs are also evaluated.

Keywords: social comparison; self-efficacy; self-esteem; persuasion; teachable moment; optimism; social support

Chapter.  12216 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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