Social and Behavioral Theories

4. Important Theories and Their Key Constructs

Other often-used theories and models (not described here) include the Theory of Reasoned Action/Theory of Planned Behavior (TRA/TPB), social support and social networks, social marketing, diffusion of innovations, and several communication theories.

Theories that gain recognition in a discipline shape the field, help define the scope of practice, and influence the training and socialization of its professionals. Today, no single theory or conceptual framework dominates research or practice in health promotion and education. However, reviews of journal articles published in the past two decades have revealed the most often-used theories in health behavior research and trends in theory use. Dozens of theories and models have been used, but only a few of them were used in multiple publications and by several authors. What follows is a description of the central elements of four of the most widely-used theoretical models of health behavior:

  • The Health Belief Model (HBM)
  • The Transtheoretical Model/Stages of Change (TTM)
  • Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)
  • The Social Ecological Model