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After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Describe ecological perspectives on health behavior and how health and fitness professionals use these perspectives to design health-promotion programs.

  2. List the six stages of change in the Transtheoretical Model and illustrate these stages with an example.

  3. Discuss the Health Belief Model and the Theory of Planned Behavior and describe how the components of these two models explain the process of forming decisions to change a target behavior.

  4. Explain the concept of self-efficacy.

  5. Describe the types of motivation that are part of Self-determination Theory.

  6. Explain the concept of locus of control and its behavior-change applications.

  7. Discuss several behavioral-learning and cognitive-behavioral strategies for helping people change health behaviors.


image Kristen has just begun a new job as wellness director for a large insurance company. She works in the human resources (HR) department and reports to Janice, the head of HR. A major part of Kristen's job is overseeing the on-site fitness center, which employs several part-time people as exercise instructors and personal trainers. Kristen spends part of each day as a lifestyle coach, working one on one with clients who need to make lifestyle changes for medical reasons. Alarmed at the rising obesity rates she sees in the company's employees, Janice has recently introduced a variety of initiatives to encourage employees to lose weight. She has asked Kristen to use her lifestyle-coaching skills to work with employees individually and in small groups to motivate them to improve their eating and exercise habits. Janice has also asked Kristen if she has any other recommendations for helping overweight employees improve their lifestyles.

Kristen knows that the statistics on successful weight loss are pretty discouraging and wonders where to start. She decides to begin with a needs assessment to determine employees' perceptions of what they need to support more-healthful lifestyles. She gets Janice's permission to e-mail each employee a short questionnaire and to conduct several focus groups to obtain feedback from a variety of employees. Kristen spends quite a bit of time her first month there introducing herself to people in various departments and watching people in the cafeteria.image

Psychologists have been studying health behavior and behavior change for many years. Numerous factors influence how a person develops health habits. Psychologists have created theoretical models to help conceptualize the behavior-change process. As explained in Chapter 1, a theoretical model is a set of ideas to help people understand and predict the way that things work. Psychologists develop models using many sources of evidence, including observation and scientific research. Understanding where health behaviors originate can help people to develop strategies for effective interventions. Psychologists acknowledge that human behavior is complex. No single model is sufficient for explaining all behaviors for all people. Models are simply a starting point for conceptualizing why people do what they do.

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