Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sesquepedalianism in the service of truth

I mentioned the Transtheoretical Model a couple of posts back and I guess I should explain what that is. It isn't really a sociological theory, it's actually a concept in applied counseling psychology. Here's an abstract, written by one of the developers and a colleague (the other originator was DiClemente), which brags about how great it is.

Okay, this is really just a common sense idea that is dressed up in a lot of jargon and high sounding rhetoric. If someone has a bad habit -- "bad" defined as we think they ought to stop doing it -- they may not be thinking about stopping at all. (I don't have a drinking problem. I drink, I get drunk, I fall down, no problem.) They are in "pre-contemplation." Maybe some other people are sorta kinda thinking about stopping but they aren't really trying yet. They are in "contemplation." Then you have people who have decided that they really ought to do something about this, but they haven't really tried yet. They are in "preparation." Then you have people who are going to counseling or AA meetings or just seriously working at stopping. They are in "action." They may relapse briefly and still be in the action phase, or they may backslide all the way to preparation or contemplation, but eventually they may get sober and stay that way for a while, in which case they are in "maintenance." Finally, some people get to the point where they don't even have to keep working at it, and they are in termination. (That's me with tobacco -- I never even think about it any more.)

Now, this isn't really the sort of idea that can be true or not true. It's tautological -- applying a set of labels to states that common sense tells us do exist. If you fit the description of contemplation, then you're in contemplation. QED.

Its main virtue is that it guides counselors to talking with people about the right stuff. If they aren't even trying, then concentrate on why they need to try. If they are trying, concentrate on how to succeed. If they're maintaining, concentrate on how to maintain. If they're terminated, say goodbye and stop cashing their checks. (Hah!)

It works, but it's not exactly rocket science. However, if you want to get published in peer reviewed academic journals, you have to talk in an exalted manner. So you call it the "transtheoretical model." Whatever.


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buy viagra said...

Interesting concept, you are very right, many people know that they should stop doing some nasty habits, they lack of will power.

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