Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-8

Date: Latest Version

Behavior Change Techniques

  • Susan MichieAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology, University College London Email author 
  • , Marie JohnstonAffiliated withSchool of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen Email author 
  • , Rachel CareyAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology, University College London Email author 

Synonyms

Potentially active element of an intervention to change behaviour

Definition

A behavior change technique (BCT) is a systematic procedure included as a potentially active component of an intervention designed to change behavior.

The defining characteristics of a BCT (Michie et al. 2011) are that it is:
  • A component of an intervention designed to change a specified behavior

  • The smallest component that can be postulated to be an active ingredient within the intervention

  • An observable activity

  • Replicable

  • Specified by an active verb and clarity about the desired behavior change targeted, with enough detail to achieve good agreement between experts

A BCT is the smallest component of an intervention compatible with retaining the postulated active ingredients and can be used alone or in combination with other BCTs. BCTs meet Heckler and colleagues’ criteria for a good intervention module, namely, smallest, meaningful, self-contained, and repurposable (Hekler et al. 2016). A BCT should be well sp ...

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