Changing behaviour

In health psychology, 26 behaviour change techniques of demonstrated effectiveness have been identified (Abraham & Michie 2008).

Behaviour change techniques with demonstrated effectiveness include:

Provide information about the behaviour-health link General information about behavioural risk, e.g. susceptibility to accidents, injury or mortality risk in relation to the behaviour.
Provide information on consequences Information about the benefits and costs of action or inaction, focusing on what will happen if the person does or does not perform the behaviour.
Provide information about others’ approval Information about what others think about the person’s behaviour and whether others will approve or disapprove any proposed behavioural change.
Prompt intention formation Encouraging the person to decide to act or set a general goal, e.g. to make a behavioural resolution such as “I will drive more carefully next week”.
Prompt specific goal setting Involves detailed planning of what the person will do including a definition of the behaviour, specifying frequency, intensity or duration as well as specification or at least one context, i.e. where, when, how or with whom. For example ‘Next time my mates are in the car and we’re going out I will stick
to the speed limits throughout the journey and slow down for bends’.
Agree behavioral contract Agreement (e.g. signing) of a contract specifying behaviour to be performed so that there is a written record of the person’s resolution witnessed by
another. For example a contract with a parent agreeing to drive according to set rules.
Relapse prevention Following initial change, identify situations likely to result in re-adopting risk behaviours or failing to maintain new behaviours and help the person to plan
to avoid or manage these situations.

The full list of effective behaviour change techniques should be considered when designing YDIs. Evaluation of YDIs should make clear which techniques have been used, and with what effect.


A taxonomy of behavior change techniques used in interventions, Abraham, C. & Michie, S. (2008)

Health Psychology, 27(3), 379-387.