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The Role of Habit and Perceived Control on Health Behavior among Pregnant Women

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Objective: Many pregnant women do not adhere to physical activity and dietary recommendations. Research investigating what psychological processes might predict physical activity and healthy eating (fruit and vegetable consumption) during pregnancy is scant. We explored the role of intention, habit, and perceived behavioral control as predictors of physical activity and healthy eating. Methods: Pregnant women (N = 195, Mage = 30.17, SDage = 4.46) completed questionnaires at 2 time points. At Time 1, participants completed measures of intention, habit, and perceived behavioral control. At Time 2, participants reported on their behavior (physical activity and healthy eating) within the intervening week. Regression analysis determined whether Time 1 variables predicted behavior at Time 2. Interaction terms also were tested. Results: Final regression models indicated that only intention and habit explained significant variance in physical activity, whereas habit and the interaction between intention and habit explained significant variance in healthy eating. Simple slopes analysis indicated that the relationship between intention and healthy eating behavior was only significant at high levels of habit. Conclusions: Findings highlight the influence of habit on behavior and suggest that automaticity interventions may be useful in changing health behaviors during pregnancy.
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Keywords: HABIT; HEALTHY DIET; INTENTION; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; PREGNANCY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Australia 2: Research Assistant, Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Australia 3: Lecturer, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Australia 4: Post-doctoral Researcher, Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Australia 5: Department of Psychology, University of Essex, United Kingdom 6: Senior Lecturer, Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Australia;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: May 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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