Is It Always Good to Feel in Control? Effects of Mortality Salience and Health Locus of Control on Health Behaviors

Mary Frances Luce, Duke University, USA
Devavrat Purohit, Duke University, USA
Adriana Samper, Duke University, USA
This research asks how perceptions of control over one’s health interact with mortality salience in a fatal and contagious disease context. While we see benefits of increased personal control on health at baseline, we find that perceived control over personal health leads to unrealistic optimism (i.e., denial of risk) and reduced disease prevention intentions when death is made salient or when others are the focus of risk assessment. We attribute these interactions to a tendency to generalize one’s own health behaviors to others, paradoxically decreasing the perceived need to engage in protection.
[ to cite ]:
Mary Frances Luce, Devavrat Purohit, and Adriana Samper (2009) ,"Is It Always Good to Feel in Control? Effects of Mortality Salience and Health Locus of Control on Health Behaviors", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 894-894.