Health Risk Behavior (HRB) is defined as behavior that increases the likelihood of adverse outcomes: injury, morbidity, or mortality. University students are particularly susceptible to HRB due to their age, academic pressures, social environment, and newly unsupervised lifestyle. Despite major efforts by university campaigns to make students aware of the potential health risks of HRB, students continue to consistently engage in behavior that risks both their short-term and long-term health. Previous literature indicates the importance of self-esteem in positive decision-making and the inhibiting role of shame in increasing withdrawal and social isolation. Shame and guilt are distinct self-conscious emotions often evoked in similar circumstances: shame often debilitative, and guilt adaptive. This study utilizes a cross-sectional design to examine the associations between HRB and the affective emotions of shame, guilt, and self-esteem to better understand HRB determinants. Data was collected from students using a Qualtrics form containing demographic and HRB questions. The Personal Feelings Questionnaire-2 (PFQ2) and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) assessed shame and guilt proneness, and global self-esteem, respectively. Mean data analyses, frequency tests, and one-way ANOVA analyses revealed associations between HRB and the three tested affective emotions. Results of this study indicated HRB is associated with higher negative emotion: higher shame and guilt proneness and lower self-esteem. With further research, this information can guide more effective clinical and educational interventions in reducing HRB and subsequent preventable diseases by targeting emotional risk factors in the university population.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Saleh, Suha


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Health Sciences

Degree Program

Health Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date