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

11 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)S191–S205
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Issue numberSupplement_2
Early online date6 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Behavior change
  • Beliefs
  • Healthy aging interventions
  • Self-regulation
  • Theory-based interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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