Talk by Prof. Howard Leventhal on “Cognitive Science Speaks to the “Common-Sense” of Chronic Illness Management”






There will be a departmental talk on 2 Sept (4pm) by Prof. Howard Leventhal. More details are provided below.

Date/Time: 2 Sept 2010 (Thursday), 4pm

Venue: AS7/01-17 (Seminar Room B)

Title: Cognitive Science Speaks to the “Common-Sense” of Chronic Illness Management


My presentation will focus on a number of areas in contemporary cognitive science research that support and enrich our understanding of the processes underlying the common-sense of self management of health and illness behaviors.  The phrase “Common-Sense” recognizes two critical features of the behaviors involved in the prevention and control of chronic illnesses: 1) patients and families manage chronic conditions in their home and community environments, and 2) procedural knowledge, i.e., perceptions and actions and not words, are the key determinants of behavior in their everyday worlds.  These two premises suggest that generating effective and efficient interventions for a personalized approach to behavioral health requires: 1) Distinguishing different content areas (perceptions and beliefs about threats to health; procedures for controlling threat; plans for implementation of action) for representing the array of experiences, emotions and beliefs involved in the individual’s behavioral control system for personalized treatment; 2) Attention to how symbols and language on the one hand, and perception, feelings and actions on the other, interact and can be mutually supportive and/or in conflict; 3) Consideration as to how executive function is involved in monitoring automatic processes and how executive preferences and decisions are implemented and made automatic; and 4) How the prototypes of illness, treatment and prototypes/stereotypes of patients affect communication and achieving adherence to shared treatment protocols.  Throughout the talk I will discuss potential for research that builds on existent knowledge in both self management and cognitive science.

About the speaker:

Howard Leventhal (Ph.D., University of North Carolina, 1956) Board of Governors Professor of Health Psychology and member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, is one of the nation’s most distinguished health psychologists. Dr. Leventhal has authored over 295 research articles and requested chapters and served as editor of five volumes reporting new developments in the theory and empirical study of health behavior during his academic tenure at Yale University (1958 – 1967), the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1967-1988), and Rutgers University (1988 to the present). His scientific contributions have been recognized by awards from the Division of Health Psychology (38), the Divisions of Health Psychology and Aging (20 and 38) of the American Psychological Association, and the Gold Medal for Life Time Achievement in Psychological Science from the American Psychological Foundation (2005).

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