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Title: The question-behaviour effect in risk behaviours
Author: Wilding, Sarah Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 123X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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The question-behaviour effect (QBE) refers to the finding that asking individuals questions about their cognitions and/or behaviour or to predict future behaviour, can influence subsequent behaviour performance. Health risk behaviours are those behaviours that should be discouraged to produce favourable health outcomes such as smoking, excessive alcohol use and unhealthy eating. The current thesis aimed to investigate the influence of the QBE over health risk behaviours. It provides an original contribution to the literature in its focus on the QBE in these types of health behaviour. A comprehensive systematic review of the QBE literature demonstrated a small, significant effect of the QBE in general, however only 16 previous studies had been conducted investigating health risk behaviours and the majority of these focused on assessing behaviour at baseline. These previous studies produced a non-significant reduction in health risk behaviours as a result of the QBE. The systematic review identified a number of moderators of the QBE including setting. Seven empirical studies are presented here, conducted in a range of settings (field, online, and lab). The data presented show mixed evidence of the QBE for risk behaviours. A mini meta-analysis of the studies presented demonstrated an overall small and non-significant effect of the QBE on risk behaviours. The individual studies demonstrated that the QBE has the potential to increase and reduce these behaviours. Three lab studies demonstrated an increase in unhealthy snacking as a result of questioning intentions relating to behaviour. This was also supported in one of the online studies, where smoking tended to be greater in individuals questioned on this behaviour compared to control, although the difference in conditions was not significant in all measures of behaviour. However one online study demonstrated a significant reduction in multiple health behaviours (risk and protection), when the QBE was combined with a dissonance manipulation. The QBE has the potential to have a small influence over health risk behaviours and the studies presented here demonstrate that asking about these behaviours has the potential to increase them. The QBE may need to be combined with further manipulation focusing on motivation or dissonance to reduce these behaviours consistently.
Supervisor: Conner, Mark T. ; Lawton, Rebecca J. ; Prestwich, Andrew J. Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available