Motives and health-related behaviour: Incremental prediction by implicit motives

Trefor Aspden, David Ingledew, John A. Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


The study assessed whether implicit motives, which operate largely outside of conscious awareness, can provide any incremental prediction of health-related behaviour over that provided by explicit motives. In a cross-sectional survey study, 251 young adults completed measures of sun exposure behaviour, sun protection behaviour and risk-related sexual behaviour, participatory motives for these behaviours, life goals (representing explicit dispositional motives), and the Single Category Implicit Association Test adapted to measure implicit motives. Analysis was by structural equation modelling. Power life goal (the goal of asserting oneself and seeking social status) predicted sun exposure behaviour and risk-related sexual behaviour. Altruism life goal (acting for the welfare of others) predicted sun protection behaviour and inversely predicted risk-related sexual behaviour. These effects of life goals were mediated by participatory motives. Implicit dispositional achievement motive (the largely unconscious need to succeed at challenging tasks) inversely predicted sun exposure behaviour, this effect being mediated by a reduction in appearance-related participatory motive for sun exposure. Implicit dispositional achievement motive also inversely predicted risk-related sexual behaviour, this effect being direct. It is concluded that implicit dispositional motives can provide some incremental prediction of health-related behaviour. Possibilities for further research, including the experimental manipulation of motive engagement, are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-71
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • implicit motives
  • motivation
  • life goals
  • sun-related behaviour
  • sexual risk taking
  • health behaviour


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