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Psychol Addict Behav. 2006 Jun;20(2):196-206.

Spontaneous cognition and HIV risk behavior.

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Institute for Prevention Research and Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, San Bernardino, USA.


Theories of cognitive processes and risk behavior have not usually addressed spontaneous forms of cognition that may co-occur with, or possibly influence, behavior. This study evaluated whether measures of spontaneous cognition independently predict HIV risk behavior tendencies. Whereas a trait-centered theory suggests that spontaneous cognitions are a by-product of personality, a cognitive view hypothesizes that spontaneous cognitions should predict behavior independently of personality. The results revealed that spontaneous cognition was an independent predictor of behavior tendencies in cross-sectional analyses. Its predictive effect was stronger than drug use, a frequently emphasized correlate of HIV risk behavior in the literature, and comparable with sensation seeking in magnitude. The results suggested that a relatively spontaneous form of cognition may affect HIV risk behavior.

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