Empirical Testing

Several SCT constructs have been operationalized and evaluated in both intervention and non-intervention studies. However, SCT as a whole, has not been empirically tested

While SCT is often used for weight loss programs, several of its constructs have not been shown to be especially strong predictors of weight loss success:

Self-efficacy has been shown to be a weak predictor of weight loss, although it increases when weight is lost.

Weight loss goal-setting was not shown to be a significant predictor of weight loss. One reason was that goals were often set too high, and people were not able to reach them. Goal-setting may be a more successful if weight loss goals are more realistic.

Source: Jeffery R. How can Health Behavior Theory be made more useful for intervention research? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2004; 1:10.

Results were mixed for media-based physical activity interventions using SCT [12]. Some studies reported only increased knowledge while others reported a significant increase in physical activity.

Studies reporting an increase in physical activity typically had a shorter follow-up period than those not reporting sustained and significant behavior change.

It is important to note that follow-up periods are often too short to determine whether an SCT-based intervention has a sustained impact on behavior change such as physical activity and healthy eating behaviors.

Source: Marcus BH, Owen N, Forsyth LH, Cavill NA, Fridinger F. Physical activity interventions using mass media, print media, and information technology. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1998; 15(4).