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The understanding that immunity could be strengthened in the general population (e.g., through vaccine interventions) supported global advances upon acute infectious disease epidemics in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. However, in the twenty-first century, global populations face chronic disease epidemics. Research demonstrates that diseases largely emerge from health risk behavior. The understanding of how health behavior, like the biological immune system, can be strengthened in the general population, could support advances in the twenty-first century. To consider how health behavior can be strengthened in the general population, the authors present a theoretical model of population health behavior. The model operationalizes health behavior as a system of functions that, like the biological immune system, exists in each member of the population. Constructs are presented that operationalize the specific decisions and habits that drive health behavior and behavior change in the general population. The constructs allow the authors to present parallels (1) among existing behavior change theories and (2) between the proposed system and the biological immune system. Through these parallels, the authors introduce a model and a logic of population-level health behavior change. The Adaptive Behavioral Immune System is an integrative model of population health behavior.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


James O. Prochaska is also affiliated with the Department of Psychology.


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