Date of this Version
Published in Journal of Health Psychology 20:5 (2015), pp. 556–568; doi: 10.1177/1359105315576605
Most health decision-making models posit that deciding to engage in a health behavior involves forming a behavioral intention which then leads to actual behavior. However, behavioral intentions and actual behavior may not be functionally equivalent. Two studies examined whether decision-making factors predicting dietary behaviors were the same as or distinct from those predicting intentions. Actual dietary behavior was proximally predicted by affective associations with the behavior. By contrast, behavioral intentions were predicted by cognitive beliefs about behaviors, with no contribution of affective associations. This dissociation has implications for understanding individual regulation of health behaviors and for behavior change interventions.