MoVo process model

The MoVo process model provides the theoretical basis for MoVo interventions. It summarizes the most important findings from various health behavior theories (Ajzen, 1991; Gollwitzer, 1999; Bandura, 2000; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Kuhl, 2000; Schwarzer, 2008; Sniehotta, 2009) and puts them into an overall context. It is assumed that the initiation and maintenance of health behavior (e.g. physical exercise and healthy nutrition) is essentially dependent on five psychological conditions, namely on the existence of a strong goal intention (Ajzen, 1991), on a high self-concordance of this goal intention (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999; Deci & Ryan, 2000), on realistic action plans (Gollwitzer, 1999; Sniehotta, 2009), on effective barrier management strategies (Kuhl, 2000; Schwarzer, 2008) and finally on the existence of positive outcome experiences with the new behavior (Rothman, 2000; Fuchs, 2013b). The interaction of these factors is shown in the following figure. A detailed description of the MoVo process model can be found in Fuchs (2007).

The starting point is the motivation to change a specific health behavior (e.g. regular physical activity) which is expressed in the goal intention (Ajzen, 1991; Sheeran et al., 2005). Goal intentions are the result of motivational processes of weighing up and choosing between the different, simultaneously existing wishes and needs of the person. The strength of a goal intention (intention strength) depends essentially on two factors: The expected advantages and disadvantages of the behavior in question (outcome expectations) and behavior-specific self-efficacy beliefs. People are more likely to be motivated to engage in regular physical activity if they expect more advantages than disadvantages and if they are convinced that they can carry out the behavior in question successfully (self-efficacy).

However, the process of implementing and maintaining a certain health behavior is not only based on the existence of a strong goal intention, but also on a high self-concordance of this goal intention. Self-concordance reflects the extent to which a goal (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999; Sheldon, 2014) or a goal intention (Fuchs et al., 2017) corresponds to the personal interests and values of the person. Self-concordance can exist in different modes: external, introjected, identified or intrinsic. In the external mode the self-concordance is lowest, in the intrinsic mode highest. For example, in the introjected mode, the person has already internalized the reasons that led to the development of the goal intention, but these are not yet “his or her own” (e.g. if the person only does physical exercise “because the doctor said so”) (Seelig & Fuchs, 2006).

In order for actual action to emerge from a goal intention, concrete action planning is required (Sniehotta, Scholz & Schwarzer, 2006). Here, the person determines when, where and how he or she wants to begin or continue the intended action. Small plans are drawn up, for example of the type “My plan is to take part in the fitness course of the University Sport Program on Tuesday evening at 6 pm”. By concretizing the intended action as well as specifying the situational conditions of execution (situational cues), the initiation of action and thus the implementation of the goal intention is supported (Gollwitzer, 1999).

Even carefully drawn up plans of action can be brought to failure by internal or external barriers. For example, the plan “Tuesday evening 6 p.m. fitness course of the University Sport Program” can fail because you are too tired for sport at the moment or because friends invite you to dinner on that evening at short notice. In such situations, the person is faced with the task of “shielding” the planned action from competing options for action. What is then required is creative barrier management (cf. Krämer & Fuchs, 2010), in which volitional strategies of action control are used, such as attention control, environmental control, mood control or motivation control in the sense of Kuhl (2000).

For the repeated performance and continuation of the planned action (e.g. regular physical exercise), processes of feedback are relevant, in which the construct of outcome experience (Fuchs, 2013b) is likely to play a central role. This construct serves to capture the personal experiences made during the behavioral episodes (e.g. in an exercise class) and their effects on the further maintenance of the behavior. The outcome expectations, which played such an important role in the development of the initial goal intention, are now the yardstick for assessing the actual experiences made with the new behavior. In the MoVo process model it is claimed that these outcome experiences feed back on the future outcome expectations (for further details see: Fuchs, 2007; 2013b).