Self-affirmation and goal difficulty as moderators of the question-behavior effect

Tommy van Steen, Adam Nicholas Joinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


The question-behavior effect suggests that asking people questions about their behavior influences future behavior. We investigated the moderating roles of self-affirmation (Studies 1–3) and goal difficulty (Study 3). Participants completed questionnaires that included one/no-prediction question about fruit and vegetable consumption. Some participants completed a self-affirmation task as part of their questionnaire and all participants received a voucher for free fruit or vegetables. Use of the voucher was the outcome measure in all three studies. Prediction questions involving a difficult/easy to achieve goal resulted in a decrease/increase in voucher use, respectively, while adding a self-affirmation task attenuated question-behavior effects. We conclude that framing behaviors as “easy to achieve” increases the effectiveness of question-behavior effect interventions and that self-affirmation is effective in avoiding unwanted question-behavior effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Theoretical Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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