The Instability of Health Cognitions: Visceral States Influence Self-efficacy and Related Health Beliefs

Loran F. Nordgren*, Joop van der Pligt, Frenk van Harreveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine how visceral impulses, such as hunger and drug craving, influence health beliefs. Design: The authors assessed smokers' self-efficacy and intentions to quit while in a randomly assigned state of cigarette craving or noncraving (Study 1), and assessed dieters weight-loss beliefs while hungry or satiated (Study 2). Main outcome measures: Self-efficacy, smoking cessation, weight-loss goals. Results: The authors found, in both the context of smoking and weight-loss, that participants in a cold (e.g., satiated) state had different health beliefs than participants in a hot state (e.g., hungry). Specifically, in Study 1, the authors found that smokers who experienced cigarette craving had lower self-efficacy than did satiated smokers. Consequently, smokers who craved a cigarette had less intention to quit smoking in the future compared with satiated smokers. In Study 2, the authors found that hungry dieters had less self-efficacy than did satiated dieters. This difference led hungry dieters to form less ambitious future weight-loss goals and view prior weight-loss attempts with more satisfaction. Conclusion: These findings contribute to our understanding of the nature of health beliefs and reveal that health beliefs are more dynamic than previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-727
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • health goals
  • hunger
  • self-efficacy
  • smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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