Trait Self-Control, Social Cognition Constructs, and Intentions : Correlational Evidence for Mediation and Moderation Effects in Diverse Health Behaviours

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Trait Self-Control, Social Cognition Constructs, and Intentions : Correlational Evidence for Mediation and Moderation Effects in Diverse Health Behaviours

Background: We examined effects of trait self‐control, constructs from social cognition theories, and intentions on health behaviours. Trait self‐control was expected to predict health behaviour indirectly through theory constructs and intentions. Trait self‐control was also predicted to moderate the intention–behaviour relationship. Methods: Proposed effects were tested in six datasets for ten health‐related behaviours from studies adopting prospective designs. Participants (N = 3,249) completed measures of constructs from social cognition theories and self‐control at an initial time point and self‐reported their behaviour at follow‐up. Results: Results revealed indirect effects of self‐control on behaviour through social cognition constructs and intentions for eight behaviours: eating fruit and vegetables, avoiding fast food, dietary restrictions, binge drinking, physical activity, walking, out‐of‐school physical activity, and pre‐drinking. Self‐control moderated the intention–behaviour relationship in four behaviours: dietary restriction, and alcohol‐related behaviours. Conclusions: Mediation effects suggest that individuals with high self‐control are more likely to hold beliefs and intentions to participate in future health behaviour, and more likely to act. Moderation effects indicate that individuals with high self‐control are more likely to enact healthy intentions and inhibit unhealthy intentions, but findings were restricted to few behaviours. Training self‐control and managing contingencies that derail goal‐directed action may be effective intervention strategies.

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ISSN
1758-0846