Our Research Program

Research Focus

    Our focus is on health behavior (exercise, dieting, and healthy/nutritious eating) that has both theoretical and practical significance.
    From a theoretical standpoint, there isn’t a good understanding of behavior that is done repeatedly over a long time because most social psychological research and theory deals with behavior that occurs at a single point in time. From a practical standpoint, physical activity and nutrition play a significant role in the prevention of the leading causes of death in the United States.                  

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Overview

  • Beginning in 1984, we began conducting research on health behavior. This has led from a focus on people’s attitudes and intentions to the role that self-schemas (i.e., self-images in personally important domains) play in acting on intentions.
  • Research conducted within the lab here at Villanova provided the first demonstrations that self-schemas are linked to behavior and that they moderate the relationship between intention and behavior.
  • Research has also led to the development and tests of a physical activity self-definition model aimed at explaining how we come to see ourselves in terms of physical activities (e.g., exerciser, runner, swimmer, skier, basketball player).

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Current Questions

Lab members are currently focusing on three general questions:
  • How do people come to define themselves in terms of specific physical activities?
  • How can we create effective theory-based interventions to promote exercise and healthy/nutritious eating?
  • How does our social world affect our health behavior and our health-related sense of self?