White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

The impact of self-affirmation on health cognition, health behaviour and other health-related responses: A narrative review

Harris, Peter R and Epton, Tracy (2009) The impact of self-affirmation on health cognition, health behaviour and other health-related responses: A narrative review. Social and Personality Psychology Compass , 3 (6). pp. 962-978. ISSN 1751-9004


Download (260Kb)


There is growing evidence that self-affirmation – the process of reflecting upon cherished values or attributes – may have implications for health. Postulated effects range from reducing the defensive resistance to unwelcome health-risk information to ameliorating the physiological response to stress. In this, the first detailed review of the literature on self-affirmation and health, we summarise what is known. Self-affirming can increase acceptance of unwelcome health-risk information, especially among those at greatest risk. Self-affirmed participants typically also report more intention to change behaviour post-message. There is evidence that certain effects of self-affirming may endure. Self-affirmation has also been shown to have beneficial effects on the response to stress. There is, however, currently only limited evidence of actual health behaviour change following self-affirmation. We discuss reasons for this and consider key research questions for the next phase of research.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This is an author produced version of a paper published in 'Social and Personality Psychology Compass'. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The definitive version is available at wileyonlinelibrary.com
Keywords: self-affirmation, health, health behavior change, risk perception
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Department of Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Professor Peter R. Harris
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2011 17:15
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 09:28
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00233.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Wiley
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00233.x
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43099

Actions (repository staff only: login required)