Moderating Effect of Socioeconomic Status on the Relationship Between Health Cognitions and Behaviors


  • M. Conner


Background: There is an established link between socioeconomic status (SES) and performance of health behaviors with more health protective and fewer health risking behaviors in higher SES groups. Purpose: This research is novel in testing the moderating effect of SES on the relationship between intention, self-efficacy and subsequent behavior. Methods: Effects were tested on data from three prospective correlational studies examining smoking initiation in adolescents (N = 826); breastfeeding in primiparous women (N = 202); and physical activity in working adults (N = 509). Results: Despite examining different behaviors, samples, time intervals, and measures of SES, each study showed significant interactions between intention and SES in predicting behavior. In all three tests the intention-behavior relationship was attenuated among individuals from lower SES groups. No moderation effects of SES were found for self-efficacy. Conclusions: The intention-health behavior relationship can be attenuated in lower SES samples. This finding may contribute to our understanding of SES differences in health behaviors.