Healthy habits: the connection between diet, exercise, and locus of control

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, Sonja C. Kassenboehmer, Stefanie Schurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes the relationship between individuals locus of control and their decisions to exercise regularly, eat well, drink moderately, and avoid tobacco. Locus of control is a psychological concept reflecting individuals beliefs about the extent to which life s outcomes are determined by one s own behavior. Our primary goal is to estimate alternative models that are indicative of the various pathways that potentially link locus of control to healthy habits. We find that individuals with an internal locus of control are more likely to eat well and exercise regularly. This link remains once controls are included for individuals future orientation and the value they place on their health. Men with an internal locus of control seem to expect higher health returns to their investments in diet and exercise. In contrast, women with an internal locus of control appear to adopt healthy habits because they derive greater satisfaction from those activities than women with external control tendencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • non-cognitive skills
  • locus of control
  • health behavior
  • healthy diet
  • exercise

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