Lay beliefs represent an individual’s subjective and informal explanation for the world around them (including explanations relating to health and illness) that do not necessarily have to concur with scientific knowledge (Furnham 1988). As lay beliefs are subjective, they will differ from person to person such that one person’s understanding of their world will not necessarily be the same as another person.
Lay beliefs develop from our individual experiences, developmental and cultural upbringing, social mores, and education. As such, we continue to develop new beliefs and alter current beliefs throughout the lifespan as we learn, experience new situations, and endure changes in culture (Zlius et al. 2017). It is thought that lay beliefs influence the way information from the environment is encoded, interpreted, and recalled, leading to interindividual differences in...
References and Further Reading
- Denscombe, M. (1993). Personal health and the social psychology of risk taking. Health Education Research, 8(4), 505–517. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1003.9731&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Evans, M. R., Prout, H., Prior, L., Tapper-Jones, L. M., & Butler, C. C. (2007). A qualitative study of lay beliefs about influenza immunisation in older people. British Journal of General Practice, 57(538), 352–358. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15239914
- Fernandez, M. E., McCurdy, S. A., Arvey, S. R., Tyson, S. K., Morales-Campos, D., Flores, B., et al. (2009). HPV knowledge, attitudes, and cultural beliefs among Hispanic men and women living on the Texas-Mexico border. Ethnicity & Health, 14(6), 607–624. https://doi.org/10.1080/13557850903248621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Furnham, A. (1988). Lay theories: Everyday understanding of problems in the social sciences. Oxford, United Kingdom: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- Kaufman, A. R., Koblitz, A. R., Persoskie, A., Ferrer, R. A., Klein, W. M. P., Dwyer, L. A., & Park, E. R. (2016). Factor structure and stability of smoking-related health beliefs in the National Lung Screening Trial. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 18(3), 321–329. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntv091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Weinman, J., Petrie, K. J., Moss-Morris, R., & Horne, R. (1996). The illness perception questionnaire: A new method for assessing the cognitive representation of illness. Psychology and Health, 11, 43–5. Retrieved from http://www.uib.no/ipq/pdf/Theillnessperceptionquestionnaire.pdf
- Zlius, C. M., Müller, B. C. N., & Schooler, J. W. (2017). The Science of lay theories: How beliefs shape our cognition, behavior, and health. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar