Health Behavior Change

Ralf Schwarzer

in The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342819
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Health Behavior Change


An overview of theoretical constructs and mechanisms of health behavior change is provided, based on a self-regulation framework that makes a distinction between goal setting and goal pursuit. Risk perception, outcome expectancies, and task self-efficacy are seen as predisposing factors in the goal setting phase (motivational phase), whereas planning, action control, and maintenance/recovery self-efficacy are regarded as influential in the goal pursuit phase (volitional phase). The first phase leads to forming an intention, and the second phase leads to actual behavior change. Such a mediator model serves to explain social-cognitive processes in health behavior change. Adding a second layer on top of it, a moderator model is provided in which three stages are distinguished to segment the audience for tailored interventions. Identifying persons as preintenders, intenders, or actors offers an opportunity to match theory-based treatments to specific target groups. Research examples serve to illustrate the application of the model to health promotion.

Keywords: Self-regulation; risk perception; outcome expectancies; self-efficacy; preintenders; intenders; health promotion

Article.  15469 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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