THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING EXPLICIT LINKS BETWEEN THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE TECHNIQUES
Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
© 2010 The Authors, Addiction © 2010 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 105, Issue 11, pages 1897–1898, November 2010
How to Cite
MICHIE, S., WEBB, T. L. and SNIEHOTTA, F. F. (2010), THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING EXPLICIT LINKS BETWEEN THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE TECHNIQUES. Addiction, 105: 1897–1898. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03161.x
- Issue published online: 6 OCT 2010
- Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
- Addictive behaviours;
- behaviour change;
- behaviour change techniques;
- behavioural interventions;
- control theory;
- psychological theory
Responding to our review of behaviour change theories , Latkin argues that current psychological theories of behaviour change are typically individualistic and emphasize decision-making and cognitive processes. Addictive behaviours, in contrast, require both physiological and social factors to be taken into account. We agree with this observation and note that there is increasing theoretical understanding of the role of associative, non-reflective processes that lead to habitual and emotionally driven behaviours. Examples of these are parallel process models , Bargh's concept of automaticity , in which the environment can prime particular responses outside conscious awareness, and West's PRIME theory which focuses upon how dispositions to experience powerful impulses develop and how these dispositions are expressed in particular situations . Because our paper did not focus upon unconscious influences on behaviour (see footnote 1), a complementary review of associative and emotion-orientated theories would be welcome.
Our review used control theory (CT) as a framework for organizing theories of behaviour change. This theory has proved an influential ‘meta’-framework for understanding self-regulation . CT's forebear, perceptual control theory, is also gaining support in other domains (e.g. clinical psychology ). Several recent reviews of behavioural interventions also suggest that manipulating key components of CT has demonstrable effects on behaviour change [8,9]
Borland  argues for a distinction between motivational factors and self-regulatory capacity and skills. This distinction has been adopted widely in health psychology [11–13]. For addictive behaviours, it has been used to classify behaviour change techniques (BCTs) in smoking cessation interventions, where 12 BCTs were categorized reliably as motivational and 14 as self-regulatory .
Borland also highlights the need to clearly conceptualize and differentiate overlapping theoretical constructs. To address this issue, a consensus study simplified and integrated 131 identified constructs from 33 theories of behaviour and behaviour change into 12 theoretical domains . These have been mapped subsequently to BCTs identified from a wide literature as part of an ongoing programme of work .
A similar question has been addressed using factor analysis; 12 factors underlying efforts at behaviour change were identified, five of which (motivation, task focus, implementation intentions, social support and subjective norms) discriminated between people who changed and those who did not .
Willemsen & de Vries  draw attention usefully to a body of work relating intervention components to theoretical determinants of behaviour. This is highly relevant to the field of addiction, but we would argue for more rigorous linking of theoretical constructs and BCTs than has been undertaken hitherto in order to strengthen our interventions and theoretical understanding. This will require improved methods. Borland suggests that we focus upon intervention components rather than the theories from which they originate. Our view is that these are not either/or, and understanding the link between the two is key to advancing the science of behaviour change .
- 5Theory of Addiction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2006.
- 9Identifying active ingredients in complex behavioural interventions for obese adults with obesity-related comorbidities or additional risk factors for co-morbidities: a systematic review. Health Psychol Rev in press., , , , ,
- 12Self-efficacy in the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors: theoretical approaches and new model. In: SchwarzerR., editor. Self-Efficacy: Thought Control of Action. Washington, DC: Hemisphere; 1992, p. 217–43.
- 14Identifying evidence-based competences required to deliver behavioral support for smoking cessation. Ann Behav Med in press., ,