Mental Representation, Health, and Illness: An Introduction
The role played by psychological, social, and cultural factors in human health and health-related behavior is hardly a new theme in the social and behavioral sciences. It is clear, however, that something new is happening in health-related social research. An important new line of theory and research can be traced, a line of work concerning basic questions of how the individual thinks about health and illness. This is the study of health and illness representation. The investigators who examine the mental representation of health and illness seek to answer such questions as these: How does the average person understand and conceptualize “health”? What rules govern the ways in which people mentally represent their own and others’ health status, and what are the implications of such representational processes and structures?
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