How do people think about healthy behaviors?

    • Topic: Human Biology

    • Location: Hall of Human Life

    Making healthy choices can be complicated. In order to do so a person must be able to control their behaviors, think critically about health and wellness information, and make inferences about things you cannot always see. These abilities are still developing in young children, but deciding what is healthy can be challenging even for adults. For example, a child may not understand that their hands can look clean but have germs on them and an adult may have to decide whether to use traditional or antibacterial soap. We are interested in exploring how people think about what is healthy.

    In this study, we ask people (age 4 years and older) a series of questions focused on their understanding of healthy behaviors. First, they will be asked open-ended questions about their own thoughts on health. Then, they will be asked questions about specific health related behaviors (e.g. brushing teeth, washing hands). They will also be told stories about people engaging in behaviors and asked to think

    We predict that, by age 4, children will be able to correctly identify simple healthy behaviors and that the ability to think more abstractly about healthy concepts will improve with age. This research may tell us more about how to help people make decisions about their health.

    Social Learning Lab at Boston University

        » Social Learning Lab

    Activities to Try in the Hall of Human Life

    What To Eat?

    Find the “What makes you hungry?” link station in the Food environment. Sit down for breakfast and pick your meal. When the menu changes you get to pick a new meal.

    Did your choices change when the menu did? Do you think one meal was healthier than the other? Why? How do you judge what makes a meal healthy?

    Over time our diets and health have changed dramatically. When you think about what makes a meal healthy, would the same thing have been true for our ancestors several thousand years ago? What parts would have been the same? What parts would have been different?

    Activities to Try at Home

    A Scientists Says What?

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make rules, regulations, and recommendations about health based on the latest scientific evidence. Can you find instances of when they’ve changed their position? Does it say why? Does everyone agree?

    What other recommendations for healthy habits can you find on the Internet or in the news? How difficult is it to find someone who disagrees? Do they both refer to research and, if so, do they do so in the same way? Have you had any personal experiences with a healthy behavior or medical treatment working differently for you and someone else?

    What makes understanding health so complicated?

Research Spotlight

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