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Transtheoretical Model 
(Stages of Change Model)

Explanation of Theory:

The Transtheoretical Model suggests that, although people realize they need to make changes in their life, they do it in stages instead of one major life change.  During these stages the person thinks about the problem, considers what to do, and decides whether or not to take action.  

Theorist: Diclemente, Norcross & Prochaska

Date:  1992

Primary Article:

    Prochaska, J.O., Diclemente C.C., & Norcross, J.C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychology 47, 1102-14.

Individual Interpretations:

The Transtheoretical Model is basically a model of change. This model consists of two main parts; the stages of change and the processes of change. There are five main stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.  Some theorists believe that there should be a sixth stage called
termination.  These stages allow people to understand when specific ďchangesĒ in attitudes, intentions and behaviors occur.  The second part of the Transtheoretical Model, the processes of change, look more in-depth at how individuals change.  There are ten major processes of change: consciousness raising, dramatic relief, self-reevaluation, environmental reevaluation, self-liberation, helping relationships, counterconditioning,
contingency management, stimulus control and social liberation.  These two parts are combined to form a exemplar which demonstrates how individuals change behavior by moving through a sequence of stages, propelled by several psychological processes.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

We believe that the Transtheoretical Model is both a scientific and a humanistic theory.  However, we think that the model has more stronger implications and uses when viewed at from a scientific perspective.  Here is a brief list of the modelís metatheoretical

Epistemology:  This theory is basically comprised of one truth because it applies to most all people.
Ontology:  This theory relies on both determinism and free-will because even though the reactions involved with the Stages of Change model are determined by situations, individuals still have free-will regarding their ultimate actions toward change.
Axiology:  Once again, we feel this theory falls in the middle between being value-neutral and value-laden.  Therefore, we would label it value-conscious because beliefs and values do play somewhat of a role within this model.


Even though we feel this theory has both a humanistic and a scientific perspective to offer, we used Chaffee and Bergerís Scientific Criteria for this analysis.

Explanatory Power:  Strong; this theory relies on itsí ability to provide plausible explanations for both itsí major components, stages of change and processes of change.
Internal Consistency:  Strong; the internal logic or interconnectedness of this theory
is extremely solid.
Heuristic Provacativeness:  Useful; this theory generates excellent research questions and expands the range of potential knowledge within this area.

According to these criteria, the Transtheoretical Model is an effective and useful scientific theory.

Ideas and Implications:

One possible implication for this theory within a health context would be to use the model as a framework for an intervention program targeting 
overweight children.  The Transtheoretical Model has been used as an intervention method for several years now with successful results. 


This example of a particular intervention program targeting obesity in elementary aged children would use the model as
a measurement of how the target population was handling change.  This study could look at the success rate of a diet and exercise program that was established in concurrence with the model.

Relevant Research:

    Bowdy, M. (1998). The cues to behavior change model: integration of the health 
belief model and the transtheoretical model. Unpublished masterís thesis,  University of Kentucky, Lexington.

     Prochaska, J.O., DiClemente, C.C., & Norcross, J.C. (1992). In search of how people  change: applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist 47(9):  1102-1112.

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

    Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. N/A

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. N/A

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. N/A

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. N/A

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. N/A

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. N/A

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A