The healthy vs the empty self: Protective vs paradoxical behaviours

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




Henley, N. (2002). The healthy vs the empty self: Protective vs paradoxical behaviours. M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, v. 5,5. here


The paradigm of the self as it is conceptualised in Western society includes an implicit assumption that one of the primary activities of the self is to engage in protective behaviours. This is a basic assumption in mass media promotion of healthy behaviours: 'Quit smoking' to protect yourself from lung cancer; 'Work safe' to protect yourself from injury, etc. Mass media social marketing campaigns inform the general population of the dangers to the self's existence of smoking, drink-driving, unsafe sex, over-eating, under-exercising and so on. These campaigns are based on models such as the Health Belief Model (Janz and Becker), the Fear Drive paradigm (Janis; McGuire), the Parallel Response Model (Leventhal), Thayer's Arousal Model, Roger's Protection Motivation Theory (Rogers & Mewborn; Maddux & Rogers), Ordered Protection Motivation Theory (Tanner, Hunt and Eppright) and the Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte). Fundamental to all these models is the assumption that people are motivated to protect themselves from harm. Information is provided that warns of the severity and likelihood of consequences of unhealthy behaviours. In some cases this information does motivate people to give up harmful behaviours and adopt safer options.

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