Cognitive orientation and physical disease or health

Shulamith Kreitler*, Hans Kreitler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper deals with a new approach to physical disease and health based on the theory of cognitive orientation (CO) (Kreitler and Kreitler, 1976, 1982). It presents an outline of the theory which is a comprehensive cognitive‐motivational model of behaviour describing how cognitive contents and processes bring about the elicitation of behaviour. The theory generated a methodology for the prediction of behaviour that has been applied in different domains ofhealth psychology. Studies are described dealing with behaviours affecting health (quitting smoking, smoking, overeating, undergoing examinations for the early detection of breast cancer), behaviours of the individual in the role of sick person (hospitalization for safeguarding pregnancy, getting information on a cancer ward), aetiologies of physiopathologies (coronary heart disease, diabetes, vaginal infections) and disorders (menstrual and sexual disorders, and infertility in women), recovery and rehabilitation (from chronic pain, and following MI), and general health orientation. Finally, the outlines of an emergent CO model of physiopathology are presented, specifying how cognitions affect health, and in which sense the processes involved in physiopathology resemble and differ from those involved in the elicitation of overt behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991


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