Self-affirmation promotes health behavior change

Health Psychol. 2008 Nov;27(6):746-52. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.6.746.


Objective: Evidence shows that self-affirmation has a positive effect on message acceptance and other variables that motivate health behavior change; however, this has not been translated into actual behavioral change. We propose that particular features of the previous studies may account for this failure; the current study addresses this. It is designed to test whether a self-affirmation manipulation can increase a health-promoting behavior (fruit and vegetable consumption). It also explores the extent to which efficacy variables mediate the self-affirmation and behavior relationship.

Design: Women (N = 93) were randomly allocated to a self-affirmation or control task prior to reading a message regarding the health-promoting effects of fruit and vegetables. MAIN OUTCOME-MEASURES: Response-efficacy, self-efficacy, and intention measures were taken immediately after exposure to the message, followed by a 7-day diary record of fruit and vegetable consumption.

Results: Self-affirmed participants ate significantly more portions of fruit and vegetables, an increase of approximately 5.5 portions across the week, in comparison to the control group. This effect was mediated by response-efficacy.

Conclusion: Self-affirmation interventions can successfully influence health-promoting behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires