• Is intuitively appealing, because it fits with the typical goals of public health work, particularly health behavior research.
  • Provides a broad range of areas to examine in order to promote behavior change (i.e., physical activity, smoking prevention, or condom use)
  • Is widely used for a variety of health behaviors and populations.
  • Contains the assumption that individuals play an active role in their health.


  • In part, due to the broad nature of SCT, the theory as a whole has not been tested well. Although self-efficacy has been empirically tested repeatedly, that does not mean that there is evidence to support the theory in its entirety.
  • Most studies tend to examine only a few constructs from SCT. More constructs should be tested in combination with one another in order to provide more support for the ways in which the constructs are related and may impact one another.

Conceptual/theoretical/philosophical critiques

  • SCT is too broad; one theory can't explain all aspects of a behavior, but this theory seems to attempt to do so.
  • While SCT considers several factors outside of the individual, it may not do an adequate job explaining all of the cognitive factors that go into changing behavior.
  • There are many gaps in the theory, particularly in the lack of explanation about how constructs relate to each other.

SCT and/or its constructs have been used for a variety of health-promotion interventions:

  • Increasing physical activity
  • Increasing condom use
  • Improving diabetes management
  • Increasing health eating behaviors
  • Preventing and reducing alcohol abuse
  • Preventing and reducing smoking rates
  • Decreasing gambling

SCT and/or its constructs have also been used as a foundation for interventions through many modalities:

  • International television and radio shows
  • Computer-assisted programs
  • Internet-based interventions
  • Face-to-face counseling
  • Tailored messages

Comment: It is best to formatively evaluate your specific population and target health behavior to determine how best to apply SCT constructs.