by Albert Bandura, PhD
First Published April 1, 2004 other
This article examines health promotion and disease prevention from the perspective of social cognitive theory. This theory posits a multifaceted causal structure in which self-efficacy beliefs operate together with goals, outcome expectations, and perceived environmental impediments and facilitators in the regulation of human motivation, behavior, and well-being. Belief in one’s efficacy to exercise control is a common pathway through which psychosocial influences affect health functioning. This core belief affects each of the basic processes of personal change—whether people even consider changing their health habits, whether they mobilize the motivation and perseverance needed to succeed should they do so, their ability to recover from setbacks and relapses, and how well they maintain the habit changes they have achieved. Human health is a social matter, not just an individual one. A comprehensive approach to health promotion also requires changing the practices of social systems that have widespread effects on human health.