Social Psychological Approaches to Health (PSYL10128)

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Social Psychological Approaches to Health (PSYL10128)

It is generally agreed that the medical model of health and illness is not sufficient to understand human health. The main contribution of health psychology has been to highlight the role of behaviour as a determinant of good or ill physical health. Behavioural factors, such as smoking, unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, contribute to the most debilitating illnesses of the 21st century. Behaviour change techniques are at the core of illness prevention, and psychology, as the science of behaviour, is key to preventing illness and improving health.

Each week will focus on a different aspect of how psychology can improve our understanding of health, drawing predominantly from health psychology (how does behaviour influence health?) and social psychology (how do social factors influence health-related behaviour and health?). The classes will consist of a mixture of lectures, large and small group discussions, and presentations. 


This course will offer students an opportunity to learn about how social psychological theorising and methods can be applied to study health.

Thursdays 11:10 - 13:00
Semester 1, Block 2
LG07 David Hume Tower
Introduction and Basics
LG07 David Hume Tower
01/11/2018 - 11:10am to 1:00pm
Psychological theories of health behaviour
LG07 David Hume Tower
08/11/2018 - 11:10am to 1:00pm
Groups and health
LG07 David Hume Tower
15/11/2018 - 11:10am to 1:00pm
Behaviour change
LG07 David Hume Tower
22/11/2018 - 11:10am to 1:00pm
Interventions and evaluation
LG07 David Hume Tower
29/11/2018 - 11:10am to 1:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should:

1. Develop an understanding of how social psychology can be applied to issues related to health and illness

2. Be able to analyse existing health campaigns in terms of psychological theory

3. Be able to critically analyse existing research in the areas of health psychology and behavioural medicine

4. Understand major theories in health psychology

5. Understand major new directions in social psychology


Indicative bibliography:

de Bruin, M., Hospers, H. J., van Breukelen, G. J., Kok, G., Koevoets, W. M., & Prins, J. M. (2010). Electronic monitoring-based counseling to enhance adherence among HIV-infected patients: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology, 29(4), 421-428.

Gibbons, F. X., & Gerrard, M. (1995). Predicting young adults' health risk behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(3), 505-517.

Gray, C. M., Hunt, K., Mutrie, N., Anderson, A. S., Leishman, J., Dalgarno, L., & Wyke, S. (2013). Football Fans in Training: The development and optimization of an intervention delivered through professional sports clubs to help men lose weight, become more active and adopt healthier eating habits. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 232.

Hofmann, W., Friese, M., & Wiers, R. W. (2008). Impulsive versus reflective influences on health behavior: A theoretical framework and empirical review. Health Psychology Review, 2(2), 111-137.

Jepson, R. G., Harris, F. M., Platt, S., & Tannahill, C. (2010). The effectiveness of interventions to change six health behaviours: A review of reviews. BMC Public Health, 10(1), 538.

Jetten, J., Haslam, C., & Haslam, S.A. (Eds.). (2011). The social cure: Identity, health and well-being. Hove, England: Psychology Press.

Oyserman, D., Fryberg, S. A., & Yoder, N. (2007). Identity-Based Motivation and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(6), 1011-1027.

Additional Information: 


70% essay (2000 words, psychological analysis of an existing health promotion campaign); submission of short written exercises (20%) and weekly quizzes (10%)