241573 Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from the Behavioral Sciences

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 8:30 AM

Brian Flay, DPhil , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
A large portion of public health is based on behavioral and sociological theory, ranging from the individual to interpersonal to population level perspectives. These theories contribute to public health law research by offering causal mechanisms for how the law does and can potentially influence health behaviors. The presentation will review the diverse set of mechanisms by which law can affect population health that emerge from psychology, social psychology and sociology, including social learning and socio-ecological theories. Intrapersonal-level theories focus on how characteristics of the individual, particularly their overall competence/skills and self-determination, determine their self-efficacy regarding laws related to specific health behaviors. Interpersonal theories focus on how interactions with one's family, peers, and community influence the development of normative beliefs about specific behaviors, and how these mediate the effects of laws on health behaviors. Social ecological theories focus on the influence of a broad array of social and cultural influences in the greater society, including the mass media and laws, and how these help determine people's attitudes towards specific behaviors. Self-efficacy, normative beliefs and attitudes all mediate the influence of laws on behavior. A comprehensive theoretical framework that integrates many of these theories, the theory of triadic influence, will be offered.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss existing examples of public health law research that employs theories from the behavioral sciences. Identify areas for future development of theory to examine health-related behaviors in the context of law and legal practices.

Keywords: Law, Theory

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctorate in social psychology and 30 years experience teaching and writing about theory applied to health-related behaviors.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.