Stage and non-stage theories of behavior and behavior change: A comment on Schwarzer

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Schwarzer characterises theories as being Continuum Models or Stage Models. We prefer the labels Theories of Behavior and Theories of Behavior Change. The stage concept is designed to represent the temporal dimension. In this way, individuals are viewed as evolving over time. Theories of behavior change also focus on dynamic variables, i.e. variables that are open to change while theories of behavior will focus on static variables. Schwarzer focuses on the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA), which distinguishes between pre-intentional motivational processes and post-intentional volition processes and makes a compelling case that theories of behavior change need to differentiate between at least two stages, motivation and action, if they are to fill the intention-behavior gap. In some HAPA studies, these two stages are expanded into three stages. The issue of how many stages there are and what are the best ways to represent, assess and treat the different stages represents an important research focus. This response discusses several reasons to believe that the stage differentiation of five stages included as part of the Transtheoretical Model is superior to the two- or three-stage model included as part of HAPA. © 2007 International Association for Applied Psychology.

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Applied Psychology