Spontaneous Cognition and HIV Risk Behavior

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Cognition and Perception | Health Psychology


Cognition relevant to risky or addictive behaviors can be conceptualized and measured in many ways. In research on HIV risk behavior, however, most cognitive research has been limited predominantly to one general approach relying on direct questioning about cognitions related to the behavior. For example, participants are frequently asked directly to report their beliefs, attitudes, or knowledge relevant to risky sex, either through questionnaires or interviews. An alternative approach, found successful in work on addictive behavior (for reviews, see Wiers & Stacy, 2006), focuses on indirect assessments of cognition. This approach assumes that much of cognition relevant to risky behavior is activated with minimal deliberation or effort and thus should be assessed by measures that do not encourage extensive processing or questionnaire judgments. This framework attempts to tap into what Kahneman (2003) has characterized as System 1, a system that does not depend on rationality yet links cognition to behavior.

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© 2006 American Psychological Association