Understanding inteded and automatic actions: a dual process view on energy balance-related behaviour
09 / 2009 - 09 / 2014
Socioeconomic health differences are observed worldwide such that epidemiological data show a social gradient: mortality and morbidity rise with decreasing socioeconomic position (SEP), and these findings have been obtained for several decades in diverse populations, and with different measures of socioeconomic position. Although this relationship is firmly established, causal mechanisms are still poorly understood. However, differences in stress and health behaviors play a central role in most explanations. In addition, self-regulation regarding mood, cognitive strategies and behavior is generally found to be lower in children from lower socioeconomic background , and is predictive of various social, educational and health outcomes later in life. Based on the literature, it is hypothesized that self-regulation in adulthood can be negatively affected by SEP in a number of ways as well, such that less healthy lifestyles are more likely to result. For example, low SEP may lead to less healthy goals due to social norms, less self-monitoring due to stress and distractions, and less control of impulsive behaviors due to lack of role models. Besides offering an explanation of the SEP-health association, the various components of self-regulation are amenable to change. Therefore, the identification of relevant and changeable self-regulation components is proposed with the aim to develop strategic building blocks for health promotion programs.
The proposed research consists of several phases, progressing from the analysis of epidemiological data, a systematic literature research that reviews the evidence for the role of self-regulation in socioeconomic health inequalities, to qualitative and quantitative studies exploring self-regulatory mechanisms.