Where Do You Keep Your Running Shoes? The Influence of Perceived Control and Self-Nudging on Health Behavior
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In the Covid-19 crisis, people from all over the world were forced to spend a lot of time at home. For many, this meant having to come up with new strategies to create a home environment supportive of a healthy diet and exercise. This study aims to predict at-home health behavior by using a combination of nudge theory and the theory of planned action. Specifically, this study investigates whether three self-nudge types (visibility, accessibility, availability) and perceived control can be used as predictors of healthy eating and exercise. In this context, perceived control is defined as the estimation of how difficult or easy the execution of the behavior is going to be, based on both external resources and internal factors. To test the hypothesis of a covariate interaction between nudge and perceived control, an online 55-item survey regarding health habits and home arrangements was administered to 100 participants aged 17-73. The responses were analyzed using two multiple linear regressions, one for healthy eating and one for exercise. The results pointed towards a covariate interaction between nudge visibility and perceived control for healthy eating but not exercise, where the only significant predictor was perceived control. These results suggests that the most effective strategy to implement healthy eating is a combination of heightened perceived control and an increase in the visibility of healthy eating self-nudges in the home environment. Concretely, this means that healthy eating habits can be promoted by fostering a ‘can-do’ attitude and by heightening the salience of the healthy eating nudges already present in our living spaces.