Eliciting causal beliefs about heart attacks: A comparison of implicit and explicit methods

David P. French, Theresa M. Marteau, Victoria Senior, John A. Weinman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To compare beliefs about the importance of different factors in causing heart attacks, elicited by explicit questionnaire ratings and an implicit vignette task. Method: In two separate studies: (1) 107 adults (aged 40-60 years); and (2) 134 students completed two tasks: (a) a questionnaire in which they explicitly rated the importance of a number of causes of heart attacks; and (b) a vignette task in which they implicitly used risk factor information to estimate a hypothetical man's likelihood of a heart attack. Results: In both studies, family history was rated as a significantly less important cause than smoking or stress on the explicit questionnaire; in the implicit task, smoking and family history exerted a much greater influence on estimates of risk than did stress. Discussion: The causal beliefs elicited by the two methods differ in important respects. The predictive validity of each measure, alone and in combination with other non-questionnaire-based measures, needs to be determined.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-444
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Health Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Causal beliefs
    • Implicit/explicit
    • Methods


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