Document Type



Medicine and Health Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences


People are inherently driven by the need to form and maintain relationships, and these affiliation goals can influence health behaviors in two ways: (a) indirectly, by increasing a person’s attention to others and subsequently leaving them more likely to emulate the health behaviors of others (social contagion); (b) directly, by leading people to be more likely to engage in health behaviors they perceive as helping them to form and maintain relationships with others (self-initiated behavioral engagement). In this review, we discuss the evidence for the catalyzing role of affiliation goals in these two processes for a variety of positive (e.g., exercising, smoking-cessation) and detrimental health behaviors (e.g., binge drinking and eating, needle sharing). Additionally, we discuss individual difference factors that may temporarily or chronically activate affiliation goals and ultimately impact health behaviors. Affiliation goals hold many implications for future work, and for improving interventions.


Soc Personal Psychol Compass. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.

Published in final edited form as: Soc Personal Psychol Compass. 2011 October; 5(10): 694–705.

doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00376.x