Multiple Influences on the Acquisition and Socialization of Children's Health Attitudes and Behavior: An Integrative Review


  • This research was supported in part by grant 11–174 from the National March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and an NIH Biomedical Research Support Grant administered by the School of Life Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana. The author extends thanks to Philip Cowan, David Reiss, Susan Thomas, Nancy Lees, Ross Parke, and three anonymous reviewers for critiquing this manuscript, to Chris Cerrudo and James Carson for assistance, and to Chris Strand and Mary Rudder for manuscript preparation.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Barbara Tinsley, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.


An overview and synthesis of the literature documenting various influences on the socialization and acquisition of children's health attitudes and behavior is the focus of this review. Cognitive-developmental approaches to understanding children's health attitudes are presented, followed by an exploration of an individual differences perspective on children's acquisition of health attitudes and behavior. The influence of various socialization agents, including families, peers, schools, and the media, on children's acquisition of health attitudes and behavior is considered. Implications of these findings for social policy, future research, and modeling of child health attitudes and behavior are examined.