Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Jared B Kenworthy


Protective health behavior influences health outcomes. Physical activity (PA) and healthy eating (HE) are two important protective health behaviors that ward off many chronic diseases later in life. Nevertheless, these behaviors are seldom practiced. Executive functioning (EF) has been used as another predictor of health behavior. However, there is an inconsistency in using EF, especially with similar measures that assess self-regulation (SR). In this paper, it will be argued that EF and SR share many similarities with subtle differences. The primary question of this study was to consequently answer whether EF has predictive validity to physical activity and healthy eating. EF performance was assessed using both an objective and a subjective measure. Additionally, a questionnaire was created by the researcher to assess specific SR behaviors for both PA and HE. It was hypothesized that the four facets of EF used in this study (initiation, working memory, inhibition, and flexible switching) would predict both PA and HE. A cross-sectional design was used to assess participants' (n = 162) EF in relation to their PA and HE. All four facets of EF failed to predict both health behaviors except for the self-report sub-scale of Shifting. However, this effect was very small with little practical relevance. In addition, it was hypothesized that specific EF facets and SR strategies will share a significant statistical association; however, all proposed relationships were non-significant. On the other hand, posthoc analyses between the Behavioral Dyscontrol Scale (BDS) and health behavior yielded statistically significant correlations. Moreover, the SR questionnaires showed moderate correlation between the majority of the sub-scales. The main implication from this study was to caution researchers to use proper measures of EF, otherwise, much of the current research utilizing EF measures may be inaccurate with inflated results. Additionally, the context-specific SR strategies were found to share no association with EF abilities. However, further research is needed to determine how EF and SR function together to produce health behaviour. Keywords: Executive Functioning (EF), Self-Regulation (SR), Physical Activity (PA), Healthy Eating (HE), Performance based measure of initiation (Initiation-P), Performance based measure of working memory (WM-P), Performance based measure of shifting (Shifting-P), Performance based measure of inhibition (Inhibition-P), Self-report based measure of initiation (Initiation-S), Self-report based measure of working memory (WM-S), Self-report based measure of shifting (Shifting-S), Self-report based measure of inhibition (Inhibition-S), self-report of self-regulation physical activity strategies (SR-PA), and self-report of self-regulation healthy eating strategies (SR-HE).


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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Psychology Commons