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Non-conscious processes in changing health-related behaviour: a conceptual analysis and framework.

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Hollands, Gareth J 
Marteau, Theresa M 
Fletcher, Paul C 


Much of the global burden of non-communicable disease is caused by unhealthy behaviours that individuals enact even when informed of their health-harming consequences. A key insight is that these behaviours are not predominantly driven by deliberative conscious decisions, but occur directly in response to environmental cues and without necessary representation of their consequences. Consequently, interventions that target non-conscious rather than conscious processes to change health behaviour may have significant potential, but this important premise remains largely untested. This is in part due to the lack of a practicable conceptual framework that can be applied to better describe and assess these interventions. We propose a framework for describing or categorising interventions to change health behaviour by the degree to which their effects may be considered non-conscious. Potential practical issues with applying such a framework are discussed, as are the implications for further research to inform the testing and development of interventions. A pragmatic means of conceptualising interventions targeted at non-conscious processes is a necessary prelude to testing the potency of such interventions. This can ultimately inform the development of interventions with the potential to shape healthier behaviours across populations.



Health behaviour, automatic, awareness, behaviour change, intervention, non-conscious, Health Behavior, Humans, Models, Psychological, Unconscious, Psychology

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Health Psychol Rev

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Informa UK Limited
Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z)
Wellcome Trust (095692/Z/11/Z)