Targeting automatic processes to reduce unhealthy behaviours: A process framework
Number of pages
SourceHealth Psychology Review, 16, 2, (2022), pp. 204-219
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
Health Psychology Review
While previous frameworks to address health behaviours through targeting underlying automatic processes have stimulated an improved understanding of related interventions, deciding between intervention strategies often remains essentially arbitrary and atheoretical. Making considered decisions has likely been hampered by the lack of a framework that guides the selection of different intervention strategies targeting automatic processes to reduce unhealthy behaviours. We propose a process framework to fulfil this need, building upon the process model of emotion regulation. This framework differentiates types of intervention strategies along the timeline of the unfolding automatic response, distinguishing between three broad classes of intervention strategies ? direct antecedent, indirect antecedent, and response-focused. Antecedent-focused strategies aim to prevent the exposure to or activation of automatic responses directly through the avoidance of unwanted stimulus-response associations (i.e., situation modification or situation-specific response selection), or indirectly through automatising self-control (i.e., attentional deployment or cognitive change). Response-focused strategies aim to directly downregulate automatic unwanted responses (i.e., response modulation). Three main working hypotheses derived from this process framework provide practical guidance for selecting interventions, but await direct testing in future studies.
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