Moderating effect of socioeconomic status on the relationship between health cognitions and behaviors

Ann Behav Med. 2013 Aug;46(1):19-30. doi: 10.1007/s12160-013-9481-y.


Background: There is an established link between socioeconomic status (SES) and performance of health behaviors with more health protective and fewer health-risking behaviors in higher SES groups.

Purpose: This research is novel in testing the moderating effect of SES on the relationship among intention, self-efficacy, and subsequent behavior.

Methods: Effects were tested on data from three prospective correlational studies examining smoking initiation in adolescents (N = 826), breastfeeding in primiparous women (N = 202), and physical activity in working adults (N = 509).

Results: Despite examining different behaviors, samples, time intervals, and measures of SES, each study showed significant interactions between intention and SES in predicting behavior. In all three tests, the intention-behavior relationship was attenuated among individuals from lower SES groups. No moderation effects of SES were found for self-efficacy.

Conclusions: The intention-health behavior relationship can be attenuated in lower SES samples. This finding may contribute to our understanding of SES differences in health behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires