Key Constructs

Stages of Change

Definition: a construct representing the temporal dimension of phases or steps through which individuals are believed to change (or not change) their behavior.

Stages of Change is best thought of as a cyclical and recycling process where individuals progress in order of stage but can relapse and recycle through stages several times; they may or may not ever reach the last stage.

  • Precontemplation: unawareness or denial of problem. No intention to change behavior in the next 6 months.
  • Contemplation: considering behavior change, with no preparation, in the next 6 months but not within next 30 days
  • Preparation: taking initial steps to change behavior in the next 30 days
  • Action: actively engaged in behavior change in next 30 days but not 6 months
  • Maintenance: sustaining behavior change that occurred in the last 6 months

Processes of Change

Definition: activities or events that people use to progress through stages

Cognitive-affective (experiential) processes:

  1. Consciousness-raising - gathering information
  2. Self-evaluation - reconsidering consequences on oneself
  3. Dramatic relief - experiencing and expressing affect
  4. Environmental evaluation - considering consequences on others
  5. Social liberation - attending to changing social norms

Behavioral processes:

  1. Counterconditioning - Substituting new behavior
  2. Stimulus control - Controlling environmental cues
  3. Reinforcement management - being rewarded by self or others
  4. Helping relationships - using social support
  5. Self-liberation - committing to change

Decisional Balance: weighing of the pros and cons of changing a behavior

Self-Efficacy: the situation-specific confidence that people can engage in a healthy behavior across different challenging or high-risk situations

Temptation: the intensity of urges to engage in a specific behavior when in difficult or challenging situations