Implicit Cognition and HIV Risk Behavior

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychology | Public Health | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Implicit cognition theory differs from most other approaches to health behavior in that it emphasizes neurobiologically plausible and experimentally documented memory association processes rather than rational decisions, considerations of pros and cons, or beliefs. The present study of adults from a community population investigated the predictive effects of implicit cognition, as well as behavioral and personality variables (sensation seeking, hostility, conscientiousness, and polydrug use), on risky sexual behaviors (lack of condom use, sex after drug use, and multiple sexual partners). In addition, this study simultaneously investigated the predictors in both a high-risk and a low-risk sample. Results showed that the implicit cognition indicator was a significant, independent predictor of lack of condom use in the high-risk sample. Polydrug use and sensation seeking also had important predictive effects. The results encourage more research on implicit cognition in health behavior and further document links among drug use, personality, and HIV risk behavior.

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