The Role of Executive Functioning on the Intention - Behavior Relationship of Health Behaviors: A Temporal Self-Regulatory Perspective
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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A variety of theories have been used to develop interventions designed to improve health behaviors in college students; however, many people who intend to engage in healthy behaviors still fall short of their goals. While clarifying the relationship between intention and actual behavior has been challenging for researchers, the Temporal Self-Regulation model (TST) has demonstrated promise with its ability to predict health behavior. The TST incorporates a self-regulatory model which has been represented in previous research by varying measures of executive functioning (EF). The current study employed the TST to determine if EF and prepotent behavior moderate the relationship between intention and health behaviors (i.e., safe driving, physical activity, and healthy eating). To address limitations in the previous research, an ecologically valid rating scale of EF and other multi-item assessment measures were used across health behaviors. Consistent with previous research, a link between intent and follow-up behavior was established and EF and prepotent behaviors were positively associated with follow-up behavior. EF had no unique moderation effects on health behaviors, but combinations of different levels of prepotent behavior and EF were able to demonstrate moderation for physical activity and healthy eating. This study demonstrated the utility of the TST in predicting health behavior and emphasized the mutual necessity of EF and prepotent behavior in understanding the intention-behavior relationship. Limitations and future directions for research were discussed.