This volume describes classic and contemporary theory and research in social psychology that sheds light on how people think about health and illness, as well as their willingness to engage in health-relevant behaviors. The Editors have selected papers that serve to illustrate the reciprocal relation between advances in theory and advances in practice.
The first two sections of the volume examine people's mental representations of health and health practices, and how these personal construals and implicit theories are linked to behavior. People can react to new health information in different ways - with acceptance, defensiveness, or downright ignorance. Research that can help us to understand these varied reactions is examined in Section 3. The following sections consider how classic social psychological theories and perspectives can be used to understand behavior relevant to health and illness. These include social influence, social comparison, pluralistic ignorance, social support, cognitive dissonance, message framing, and attribution theory. Finally, several articles consider links between personality characteristics and health, such as those between hostility and heart disease, and confiding traumatic experiences and immune function. The volume also contains a introductory chapter by the editors which provides a discussion of why social and personality psychologists should be interested in health and illness.
Together with overviews for each section, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading, the volume is an ideal text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on health psychology. The volume is also appropriate for courses in related disciplines such as public health, nursing, health education, health communication, and other allied health sciences.