Simply Asking Questions About Health Behaviors Increases Both Healthy and Unhealthy Behaviors
Social Influence, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 117-127, 2006
13 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2011
Date Written: June 2, 2006
Several recent lines of survey research demonstrate that the simple act of asking a question can lead to changes in a respondent's subsequent behavior. In the current research we asked college students their likelihood to either (i) exercise or (ii) use illegal drugs in the coming 2 months. After 2 months we asked the same college students to report their exercising and illegal drug use behaviors. The findings provide further evidence that these "question-behavior" effects occur for socially normative personal health behaviors, a domain that should have high levels of respondent vigilance and defensive processing. Of more concern, we demonstrate that when a question is asked about a socially non-normative health behavior (i.e., illegal drug use) instead of decreases in the behavior, we see increased rates of the non-normative behavior.
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