Self-affirmation theory for positive behavior change

Self-affirmation: a statement that affirms a person’s sense of global self-integrity, positive self-beliefs, purpose and/or core values. According to the self-affirmation theory, even a single affirmation can buffer against psychological threat, thereby allowing for healthier decisions. Given that increasing numbers of people around the world are overweight, obese, and inactive, new strategies for behavior change are needed. The self-affirmation theory is unfamiliar to many in the health/fitness and medical industries, yet it holds real potential for increasing positivity and helping with the initiation and maintenance of physical activity, as well as other essential health behaviors. The conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of self-affirmation theory will be presented and different client scenarios will be explored in this session, with an emphasis on helping sedentary and overweight clients become more physically active. Research has shown that the use of self-affirmation can help with multiple types of behavior change, including the increase of physical activity, healthy eating patterns, medication adherence, smoking cessation, and even improved study habits. Dr. Yoke will review the scientific literature on self-affirmation theory and will lead attendees through several positive self-affirmation experiences.

Author(s): Mary Yoke  

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