Health psychology as a field of research and practice formally developed 30 years ago but it was prefigured by sustained debate within social and applied psychology about the nature of psychology and its role in society. This article considers this pre-history of health psychology and how the field has subsequently developed. It considers how its character is shaped by dominant ideas within psychology and is also enmeshed in broader social relations. To illustrate the changing character of health psychology it considers how the field is represented in a selection of popular textbooks. It concludes by considering the growth of some critical approaches within health psychology.
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