More than half of the main causes of death and disability in the United States can be linked to a few individual health behaviors like diet and physical activity, and risky or unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, unsafe sex, use of firearms, and drug use. Avoiding these risky behaviors and adopting healthy behaviors can significantly lower one's risk for chronic illness, but persuading individuals to do so is easier said than done. This is because the factors that influence health behaviors vary greatly from one person to another. Individual differences in beliefs, values and attitudes, motives and expectations, circumstances, personality traits, mental and emotional states, patterns of action, and habits all play a large part in shaping health behaviors and decision making.

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