Using theories of behavior change to develop interventions for healthy aging

Verena Klusmann, Alan J. Gow, Philippe Robert, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Healthy aging requires people to adopt and maintain beneficial behaviors in all stages of the life span. Supporting behavior change, including via the motivation to make and maintain those changes, is therefore important for the promotion of healthy aging. The aim of this overview is to introduce theoretical frameworks from the psychology of motivation that lend themselves to the development of effective interventions promoting behavior change conducive to healthy aging. We discuss theoretical frameworks referring to the determinants, properties, and functionality of goals aimed at behavior change, and consider the implications of the various theories for designing interventions to support healthy aging. We first consider theories that focus on beliefs and attitudes as determinants of goals, then we address theories that focus on the structure and content as important properties of goals, and, finally, we examine theories drawing on conscious and nonconscious processes underlying the functionality of these goals. We will present if-then planning and mental contrasting, as well as nudging and boosting, that is, novel strategies of behavior change that support the creation of scalable interventions for healthy aging across the life span. Against this background, new perspectives emerge for modern, state-of-the-art, and individually tailored interventions with the aim of enhancing older people's healthy living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S191-S205
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue numberSuppl 2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Behavior change
  • Beliefs
  • Healthy aging interventions
  • Self-regulation
  • Theory-based interventions
  • Healthy Aging/physiology
  • Health Promotion/trends
  • Attitude to Health
  • Humans
  • Behavior Control/methods
  • Psychosocial Intervention
  • Psychology, Developmental
  • Health Behavior
  • Motivation
  • Psychological Theory
  • Aged
  • Culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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