Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

HLTHPSYC 122 - Behaviour, Health and Development

15 Points

Semester 2
City, Grafton, Tāmaki


Introduction to the relationship between behaviour and the major biological, cognitive and social-emotional processes, applying them to health and development across the life span. Focuses on aspects of behaviour and development particularly relevant for the healthcare professional.


Restriction: POPLHLTH 122

Learning Outcomes

You are encouraged to read about the topics before lectures, as most of the conceptual vocabulary of the behavioural sciences will be new to you. To assist this process you will be provided with a detailed listing of lectures, tutorials and reading list in the handbook. As part of your self-directed learning you will be required to complete a project on changing behaviour.

By the end of this paper you should be able to:

1. Describe how key psychological and developmental theories can contribute to: – An understanding of the aetiology of disease & illness

– Informing our health care practice

– Promoting positive/negative health behaviours

2. Describe theories and techniques useful in changing behaviours that affect health and illness

3. Describe key factors related to adherence to treatment

4. Identify the major research methods used in the study of psychology and development

5. Describe social, cognitive and developmental factors that are likely to affect health across the life course.

Additional information

The Behaviour, Health and Development course provides the conceptual foundations for understanding the behaviour of people. The course is structured around the biopsychosocial lifespan model, which provides a framework for integrating the biological, psychological, and social perspectives on human behaviour, health and development. The objective is to enable students to apply the principles and theory to their own health behaviour, their health care practice and their understanding of the health, behaviour and development of their patients.

For instance, behaviour such as aggression can only be fully understood if we take into account biological factors such as the role of testosterone, psychological factors such as reinforcement for aggressive acts, and social factors such as role models. Similarly, a complete understanding of an illness, such as schizophrenia, can only be obtained by taking into account genetic predispositions, alterations to brain functions and exposure to psychosocial stressors.

This course revolves around lectures and small group tutorials. Lectures are presented face-to-face and also recorded to aid revision. These begin with an overview of the brain and nervous system to provide a basis for the biological understanding of human behaviour and development. Mental processes, such as perceiving the world, memory, thinking, decision making and problem solving, and how they develop across the life span are then addressed. The way in which people learn is analysed together with how health professionals can use principles of learning to modify behaviour. Finally, social and emotional influences on health behaviour are evaluated and the concepts of health psychology and psychopathology are introduced.

Course work  40% 
Final Exam (3 hours) 60% 
Course work components   
One written assignment  20% 
Mid-semester test   20% 

Minimum pass mark for course work and/or final examination: 50% of combination of course work, mid-term test and final examination.  

Course Outline  Total contact hours 
2 x 1 hour lectures per week   24 hours 

1.5 hour tutorial per week

(except for first week of semester and during week of mid-semester test)

15 hours



Professor Sally Merry
Professor Nathan Consedine
Dr Tony Fernando
Dr Anna Friis
Dr Judith McCool
Dr Lillian Ng
Dr Elizabeth Sertsou
Dr Karolina Stasiak
Dr Suzanne Stevens
Dr Lisa Underwood

Required Text

Psychology and Life: 2nd Australasian Edition, Gerrig, Zimbardo, Campbell, Cumming and Wilkes, 2012. Pearson Australia.

Course Coordinators

Course Administrator