John de Wit

Health Narratives


John de Wit


University of New South Wales


John de Wit is Professor and Director of the Centre for Social Research in Health, The University of New South Wales in Sydney, and Visiting Professor with the department of Social Psychology at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. John graduated in psychology from Radboud University Nijmegen, with a specialisation in social psychology, in particular attitude and behaviour change. He subsequently completed a PhD in public health/health promotion, with a focus on trends in sexual risk behaviour and risk for HIV among gay men. John’s research career to date spans almost 25 years and he has published widely in high-esteem peer-reviewed journals in a range of disciplines, including epidemiology, public health, health psychology, social psychology, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS. He has also contributed to several books in social psychology, health psychology and sexology, and has co-edited two books on the application of social psychological theory to a range of social domains and the self-regulation of health behaviour.


Trained as a behavioural scientist, John has developed a signature program of research encompassing both applied and more basic social and behavioural sciences research regarding health behaviour, health communication and health promotion. John is an internationally recognised leader in social and behavioural research with respect to HIV and sexual health, and has an interest in contemporary health and social issues more broadly, including childhood overweight and sexual coercion.

Most of John’s research is concerned with strengthening a theory-based understanding of health behaviours to inform innovative policies and programs. John’s research is firmly grounded in contemporary social and behavioural science theories of evaluation, decision-making and self-regulation and aims to contribute to evidence-based practice in persuasive communication, behaviour change and health promotion. John has been the principal and lead investigator of numerous research projects, including large-scale behavioural surveys, targeted cohort studies, laboratory experiments, intervention studies in the field and in-depth qualitative explorations.


health psychology, health communication, health behaviour, sexual health, HIV, self-regulation, social cognition

Key publications

Stok, F.M., de Ridder, D.T.D., de Vet, E., & de Wit, J.B.F. (2014). “Don’t tell me what I should do, but what others do”: the influence of descriptive and injunctive peer norms on fruit consumption in adolescents. British Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 52-64.

Brener, L., Wilson, H., Mackenzie, A., Rose, G., de Wit, J.B.F. (2013). Challenging stereotypes and changing attitudes: improving quality of care for people with hepatitis C through Positive Speakers programs. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 18, 242-249.

Hald, G.M., Kuyper, L., Adam, P. & de Wit, J. (2013). Does viewing explain doing? Assessing the association between sexually explicit materials use and sexual behaviors in a large sample of Dutch adolescents and young adults. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 2986-2995.

Keer, M., van de Putte, B., de Wit, J., & Neijens, P. (2013). The effects of integrating instrumental and affective arguments in rhetorical and testimonial health messages. Journal of Health Communication, 18, 1148-1161.

Vet, R., de Wit, J. B. F., & Das, E. (2011). The efficacy of social role models to increase motivation to obtain vaccination against hepatitis B among men who have sex with men. Health Education Research , 26, 192–200.