Stellefson, Michael; Zhongmiao Wang; Klein, William
September 2006
American Journal of Health Studies;2006, Vol. 21 Issue 3/4, p219
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that when college students are made to feel cognitive dissonance about their diet and exercise behaviors, they will be more likely to adopt healthier diet and exercise habits � particularly when the dissonance is tied to appearance rather than health concerns. One hundred twenty-six college students reported a number of diet and exercise behaviors after writing about why high-quality diet and exercise promotes health (dissonance-health), or physical appearance (dissonance-appearance); or they wrote about an unrelated topic (control). Risk perceptions related to negative health and appearance consequences emanating from diet and physical activity levels were then assessed. Following this, participants were instructed to indicate whether they intended to change their diet or exercise behaviors, for the better, anytime during the next 6 months. It was found that dissonance did not effect absolute levels of risk perceptions or intentions, but did influence the relationship between risk perceptions and intentions. In particular, there was no correlation in the control group, a negative correlation in the dissonance-appearance group, and a positive correlation in the dissonance-health group. Implications of these findings are discussed.


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