Behavioral Research

Table of Contents
1 General Description & Theoretical Background
2 Definitions of Perceived Vulnerability in Health Behavior Theories
3 Measurement and Methodological Issues
4 Similar Constructs


6 Published Examples

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Other Constructs



Dispositional Optimism




Illness Representations

  Implementation Intentions
  Intention, Expectation, and Willingness
  Normative Beliefs
  Optimistic Bias
  Perceived Benefits
  Perceived Control
  Perceived Severity
  Perceived Vulnerability
  Self-Reported Behavior
  Social Influence
  Social Support

Perceived Vulnerability
Meg Gerrard and Amy E. Houlihan

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5 References

Becker, M.H. (ed). (1974) The health belief model and personal health behavior. Health Education Monographs , 2, 324-508.  

Bice, T.W., & White, K.L. (1969). Factors related to the use of health services: an international comparative study. Medical Care , 8, 124-133.  

Covey, J.A., & Davies, A.D.M. (2004). Are people unrealistically optimistic? It depends how you ask them. British Journal of Health Psychology , 9, 39-49.

Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F.X., Benthin A., & Hessling, R.M. (1996). A longitudinal study of the reciprocal nature of risk behaviors and cognitions in adolescents: What you do shapes what you think and vice versa. Health Psychology, 15 , 344-354.

Gerrard, M., Gibbons F.X., & Bushman, B.J. (1996). The relation between perceived vulnerability to HIV and precautionary sexual behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 119 , 390-409.

Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F.X., Reis-Bergan, M., Trudeau, L., Vande Lune, L., & Buunk, B.P. (2002). Inhibitory effects of drinker and non-drinker prototypes on adolescent alcohol consumption. Health Psychology, 21 , 601-609.

Gerrard, M., & Luus, C.A.E. (1995). Judgments of vulnerability to pregnancy: The role of risk factors and individual differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21 , 160-171.

Gibbons, F.X., Lane, D., Gerrard, M., Pomery, E., & Lautrup, C. (2002). Drinking and driving: A prospective assessment of the relation between risk cognitions and risk behavior. Risk, Decision, and Policy, 7, 267-283.

Gibbons, F.X., & Gerrard, M. (1995). Predicting young adults' health risk behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 69, 505-517.  

Gibbons, F.X., Gerrard, M., & Lane, D.J. (2003). A social reaction model of adolescent health risk. In J.M. Suls & K. Wallston (Eds.), Social psychological foundations of health and illness . Oxford , U.K: Blackwell.

Haefner, D.P., & Kirscht, J.P. (1970). Motivational and behavioral effects of modifying health beliefs. Public Health Reports , 85, 478-84.

Halpern-Felsher, B. L., Millstein, S. G., Ellen, J. M., Adler, N. E., Tschann, J. M., & Biehl, M. (2001). The role of behavioral experience in judging risks. Health Psychol., 20, 120-126.

Hochbaum, G.M. (1958). Public participation in medical screening programs: a socio-psychological study. Public Health Service Publication No. 572. Washington , D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office.

Joseph, J.G., Montgomery, S.A., Emmons, C.A., Kirscht, J.P. et al. (1987). Perceived risk of AIDS: Assessing the behavioral and psychosocial consequences in a cohort of gay men. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 231-250.

Kegeles, S.S. (1963). Why people seek dental care: a test of a conceptual frame-work. Journal of Health and Human Behavior , 4, 166.  

Klein, W.M. (1996). Maintaining self-serving social comparisons: attenuating the perceived significance of risk increasing behaviors. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 15, 120-142.

Klein, W.M., & Weinstein , N.D. (1997). Social comparison and unrealistic optimism about personal risk. In B. P. Buunk & F. X. Gibbons (Eds.), Health, coping, and well-being: perspectives from social comparison theory . Hills-dale , NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum.

Loewenstein, G.F., Weber, E.U., Hsee, C.K., & Welch, N. (2001). Risk as feelings. Psychological Bulletin , 127, 267-286.

Maiman, L.A. , & Becker, M.H. (1974). The health belief model: origins and correlates in psychological theory. Health Education Monographs , 2, 336-353.

Osborne, R.H., Elsworth, G.R., Kissane, D.W., Burke, S.A., & Hopper, J.L. (1999). The mental adjustment to cancer (MAC) scale: replication and refinement in 632 breast cancer patients. Psychological Medicine , 29, 1335-1345.

Perloff, L.S. & Fetzer, B.K. (1986). Self-other judgments and perceived vulnerability to victimization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(3):502-510.

Rogers, R.W. (1983). Cognitive and physiological processes in fear appeals and attitude change: a revised theory of protection motivation. In J. T. Cacioppo and R. E. Petty (Eds.), Social Psychophysiology . New York : Guilford Press, 153-176.

Ronis, D.L. (1992). Conditional health threats: health beliefs, decisions, and behaviors among adults. Health Psychol., 11, 127-134.

Rosenstock, I.M. (1966). Why people use health services. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly , 44, 94-127.

Rosenstock, I.M. (1974). Historical origins of the health belief model. Health Education Monographs , 2, 328-335.

Slovic, P., Finucane, M., Peters, E., & McGregor, D.G. (2003). The affect heuristic. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: the psychology of intuitive judgment . New York : Cambridge University Press.

van der Pligt, J. (1998). Perceived risk and vulnerability as predictors of precautionary behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology , 3, 1-14.

Weinstein, N.D. (1982). Unrealistic optimism about susceptibility to health problems. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 5, 441-460.

Weinstein , N.D. (1988). The precaution adoption process. Health Psychology , 7, 355-386.

Weinstein, N.D., Kwitel, A., McCaul, K., Magnan, R., Gerrard, M., & Gibbons, F.X. (in press). Risk perceptions: Assessment and relationship to influenza vaccination. Health Psychology.

Weinstein , N.D. , Lyon , J.E., Sandman, P.M., & Cuite, C.L. (1998). Experimental evidence for stages of health behavior change: The precaution adoption process model applied to home radon testing. Health Psychology , 17, 445-453.

Weinstein , N.D. , & Nicolich, M. (1993). Correct and incorrect interpretations of correlations between risk perceptions and risk behaviors. Health Psychology, 12 , 235-245.

Windschitl, P.D. (2003). Measuring and conceptualizing perceptions of vulnerability/likelihood. Paper presented at the Conceptualizing and Measuring Risk Perceptions Workshop, February 13-14, 2003 ; Washington , D.C.

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