What is Health Psychology?

Health Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes in connection with health and morbidity. It is mainly concerned with risk and health behaviors, psychological processes and psycho-social factors as well as their interrelation with physical diseases and constraints (Lippke & Renneberg, 2005).


Theory in Health Psychology

On the basis of health psychology, strategies can be developed which help people to improve their health and increase their happiness. Health promotion does not only target individuals, it also provides approaches to support institutions and environments. Health psychology is strongly theory oriented: Theories and models of behavior change are tested, developed and used to make interventions more effective.

Correspondence of Health Psychology and other scientific domains

Other areas of psychology are, e.g.,
– social psychology
– developmental psychology
– organizational psychology

Other scientific areas are, e.g.,
– medicine (especially behavioral medicine)
– public health
– gerontology

Health psychology is very open for interdisciplinary work. There are almost no boundaries for collaboration with other disciplines.


Sonia Lippke’s specialization in Health Psychology

Dr. Lippke has applied and tested diverse theories and models of health behavior change in different settings, for instance,

  • The Health Action Process Approach (HAPA; e.g., Lippke et al., 2010; Schwarzer et al., 2007, 2008).
  • Transtheoretical Model (TTM; e.g., Duan, Lippke et al., 2011; Plotnikoff, Lippke et al., 2010).
  • Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB, e.g., Plotnikoff, Lippke et al., 2010; Nigg, Lippke & Maddock, 2009).
  • Protection Motivation Theory (PMT, e.g., Lippke & Plotnikoff, 2009; Plotnikoff, Lippke et al., 2010).
  • Social Cognitive Theory (SCT, Plotnikoff, Lippke et al., 2008).
  • Multi-Stage-Model (MSM, Lippke & Ziegelmann, 2006).

However, as most researchers in this field, she mainly investigated one behavior at a time. Evidence shows that individuals may be able to prevent the onset of illnesses and to cope with already existing diseases by adopting and maintaining multiple health behaviors, such as physical activity and diet. Nevertheless, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for changing multiple behaviors and comprehensive theories are missing. Thus, her current and future research initiatives aim to close this gap.


Sonia Lippke has first-authored respective papers and supervised PhD-students in related analyses. Following the request for more theory-based understanding, research and interventions, she has recently developed a theory on multiple behavior change: The Compensatory Carry-over Action Model (CCAM, Lippke, 2011). It integrates state-of-the-science psychological theories and research in terms of social-cognitive factors that influence different behaviors and their interrelations( see also Lippke,S.(2014).Modelling and Supporting Complex Behavior Change related to Obesity and Diabetes Prevention and Management with the Compensatory Carry-Over Action Model.Journal of Diabetes &Obesity,1(2),1-5.