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Objectives

The aim of the current study is to explore the predictive utility of the temporal self-regulation theory (TST) for maintaining a healthy lifestyle (Hall & Fong, 2007, Health Psychology Review, 1, 6). According to TST, the influence of intention, self-regulation, and behavioural prepotency differs depending on the environmental context in which the behaviour is performed. This study examined the influence of perceptions about the supportiveness of the environmental context on TST-related factors.

Design

Temporal self-regulation theory was tested using a prospective design with a 1-week follow-up.

Methods

One hundred and fifty-two undergraduates were administered three executive functioning tasks and an online questionnaire regarding their intentions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, environmental responsiveness, and previous behaviour. One week later, they completed a follow-up questionnaire.

Results

Participants who were supported by the environment were significantly more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle than those distracted by the environment. Behavioural prepotency was significantly predictive of behaviour performance for ‘supported’ participants. Behavioural prepotency, planning, and response inhibition were significantly predictive of ‘unsupported’ participants' behaviour.

Conclusions

These findings provided preliminary support for the use of TST for the prediction of healthy lifestyle behaviour. Importantly, this study provided support for the contention that the influence of TST-related factors would vary according to the perceived supportiveness of the environment. These findings suggest that environmental responsiveness may be an important determinant to close the intention–behaviour gap for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Statement of contribution

What is already known on this subject? Young adults fail to adhere to behaviours indicative of healthy lifestyle. Self-regulation and behavioural prepotency add unique variance to the prediction of health behaviour. The influence of these factors is thought to vary according to environmental context.

What does this study add? Individuals who feel supported by the environment are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle than those who feel distracted by the environment. Behavioural prepotency is predictive of healthy lifestyle for individuals who feel ‘supported’ by the environment. Behavioural prepotency, planning and response inhibition are predictive of healthy lifestyle for individuals who feel ‘unsupported’ by the environment.