Health in the United States: Are Appeals to Choice and Personal Responsibility Making Americans Sick?
Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science
The United States suffers high rates of preventable lifestyle disease despite widespread calls for people to take responsibility for their health. The United States also stands out in its rejection of government action to guide industry practices and consumer choices. Why? We examine how deeply rooted cultural narratives about "free choice" and "personal responsibility" infuse policymaking, advertising, media, social norms, and individual attitudes about health in the United States. We argue that these narratives contribute to ill health in the United States: They encourage stress and worry over health, blame and stigmatization of the unhealthy, widened health disparities, and the failure to adopt policies that could save lives. Psychologists can play a major role in expanding narratives about health so that they include the role of personal choice and responsibility but also reflect current science about the physical, social, and cultural drivers of health. These broader narratives can be used to promote a more comprehensive understanding of health and to better inform the design, communication, and implementation of effective health-supportive policies.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1745691619896252
View details for PubMedID 32097096