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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2015 Feb;19(1):77-92. doi: 10.1177/1088868314539852. Epub 2014 Jun 30.

Realizing the promise of social psychology in improving public health.

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National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, USA
University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.
National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, USA.
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.


The theories, phenomena, empirical findings, and methodological approaches that characterize contemporary social psychology hold much promise for addressing enduring problems in public health. Indeed, social psychologists played a major role in the development of the discipline of health psychology during the 1970s and 1980s. The health domain allows for the testing, refinement, and application of many interesting and important research questions in social psychology, and offers the discipline a chance to enhance its reach and visibility. Nevertheless, in a review of recent articles in two major social-psychological journals (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology), we found that only 3.2% of 467 studies explored health-related topics. In this article, we identify opportunities for research at the interface of social psychology and health, delineate barriers, and offer strategies that can address these barriers as the discipline continues to evolve.


health behavior; health psychology; public health; social psychology

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