Surprising psychology can make the country healthier (Scientific American)

June 10, 2014

Crystal Hoyt, associate professor of leadership studies and psychology, co-authors an article on how insights can improve public health campaigns — and keep them from backfiring.


Public health communications are designed to tackle significant medical issues such as obesity, AIDS, and cancer. For example, what message can best combat the growing obesity epidemic? Are educational messages effective at increasing condom use? Should cancer prevention messages stress the health risks of too much sun exposure? These are not just medical problems. These are fundamentally questions about perception, beliefs, and behavior. Psychologists bring a unique expertise to these questions and are finding consequential, and often non-intuitive, answers.

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