Risk perception and psychosocial vulnerability in health behaviors

José A. García del Castillo, Álvaro García del Castillo-López, Carmen López-Sánchez, Paulo C. Dias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Risk perception and psychosocial vulnerability are two fundamental concepts to understand health behaviors. From a theoretical perspective, each of these, individually, may be considered as being responsible in large part for the health and/or sickness-related behaviors, and collectively, they can exponentially multiply the effects of these behaviors. Conceptually speaking, risk may be analyzed individually or collectively, and from either a real and/or subjective perspective, with the possibility or evidence that the behavior is exposed to events that may have negative consequences on health (individual and/or collective). Based on these arguments, the concept of risk perception is constructed based on its underlying factors, with perception, personal experience, quantity and quality of information received, beliefs and attitudes, stereotypes and motivation all intervening. Vulnerability has been studied in distinct disciplines, but all of these disciplines come together at one common point, the threat status. The concept of psychosocial vulnerability within the concept of health behavior may be understood as the degree of susceptibility of an individual or a group to health-related problems and it includes a series of factors that are the basis of its configuration, including risk, coping strategies, resilience, stress, attachment and emotional intelligence, all in response to a real and/or perceived threat. The degree of convergence of these two theoretical concepts determines whether the risk or protection levels in the case of health problems will be greater or lesser, and it may also directly influence decision making processes, both individual and collective. Our goal is to offer a thorough analysis of risk perception and psychosocial vulnerability in a health context, from a theoretical perspective, and based on current scientific evidence, in order to open research lines for both of these constructs, both separately and collectively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRisk perception
Subtitle of host publicationtheories and approaches
EditorsTheodore Spencer
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781634846417
ISBN (Print)9781634846233
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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