Health-Promoting Lifestyles and Personality among Black South African Students

By Peltzer, Karl | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Health-Promoting Lifestyles and Personality among Black South African Students


Peltzer, Karl, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The aim of this study was to investigate health-promoting lifestyles (HPLP) and personality in black South African students. The sample included 606 students: 236 Grade 12, secondary school and 370 first year social science university students in South Africa. Results indicate a reasonable percentage of health-promoting lifestyles with a mean of 2.72. Secondary school students reported more overall health-promoting lifestyles than did university students. Multiple stepwise regression identified the Lie scale, Neuroticism, and Psychoticism as independent predictors for the total HPLP; Extraversion, gender and group (=secondary or university students) were excluded.

Lifestyle in the context of health is broadly defined as a constellation of discretionary activities with significant impact on health status that are an integral part of one's pattern of living (Wiley & Camacho, 1980). Walker, Sechrist and Pender (1987) defined health-promoting lifestyle as a "multidimensional pattern of self-initiated actions and perceptions that serve to maintain or enhance the level of wellness, self-actualization and fulfillment of the individual" (p. 77).

A central element in attaining the goals and objectives of Healthy People 2010 is promoting healthy-behavior lifestyles. Health promotion continues to be sanctioned as the long-term most cost-effective approach to a reduction in preventable health problems. Adolescents are presently an age group in jeopardy of not making the transition into adulthood with healthy lifestyles (Hendricks, Murdaugh, Tavakoli, & Hendricks, 2000).

Few studies have investigated the association between health-promoting lifestyles and personality. Personality traits have attracted little attention in this field, most researchers preferring to focus on psychological factors that are presumed to be more proximal to health behavior (Rabinowitz , Melamed, Kasan, & Ribak,1992-93; Steptoe et al., 1994). However, in a recent study among European young adults, Steptoe et al. found that consistently healthy practices were positively correlated with extraversion and negatively associated with neuroticism, and psychoticism. Vingerhoets, Croon, Jeninga and Menges (1990) found that more neurotic people tended to take less exercise, sleep less well, smoke more and not to eat breakfast. These authors seem to have examined the relationship between personality and healthy lifestyles by using, for example, the Eysenckian model of personality (Steptoe et al., 1994) and healthy behavior only for particular health behaviors such as exercise and nutrition. However, a healthpromoting lifestyle includes more than just behavioral variables, for example, factors such as self-actualization, health responsibility and stress management. Therefore, in this study the Health Promotion Life-style Profile (HPLP; Walker et al., 1987) was used, which includes psychosocial dimensions of health promotion such as self-actualization. The inclusion of the psychosocial dimension in the health-promoting lifestyle profile makes it particularly interesting to study it in relation to different personality dimensions, which seem not to have been studied yet.

Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate health-promoting lifestyles and personality in black South African students.

METHOD

SAMPLE

The sample included 606 students: 236 Grade 12 secondary school students chosen at random from three rural schools in the central region of the Northern Province and 370 first year social science university students from the University of the North chosen at convenience in a classroom setting. The secondary school students were 112 (47.5%) males and 124 (52.5%) females in the age range of 15 to 27 years (M age 18.1 yr., SD=1.8) and the university students were 139 (37.6%) males and 231 (62.4%) females in the age range of 16 to 42 years (M age 21.2 yr., SD=4.1).

MEASURES

A 48-item Health Promotion Life-style Profile (HPLP; Walker et al. …

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