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Dyadic behaviour change techniques (DBCT): Developing a taxonomy


Health-enhancing behaviors such as being physically active, eating healthily, or using condoms as well as health-compromising behaviors such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption often have a social component. Likewise, a growing literature documents the importance of the social context in shaping health behavior change. Particularly for one of the closest personal relationships during the adult lifespan, the relationship with a romantic partner, researchers have produced a large number of theories and empirical findings to better understand the protective effect of close relationships on health. The specific processes underlying the powerful effect of romantic relationships on health are still far from understood. While existing taxonomies of behaviour change techniques are mostly located at the individual level (e.g. goal setting, self-control), dyadic intervention techniques remain underrepresented and insufficiently differentiated. Thus, to understand dyadic processes in health behavior change, a systematic and reliable identification of dyadic behavior change techniques presents an important next step. The lead agency project "Developing a Taxonomy of Dyadic Behaviour Change Techniques" aims to develop a taxonomy of dyadic intervention techniques that change health-promoting (e.g. physical activity or healthy eating) or health-risk behaviors (e.g. smoking or excessive alcohol consumption). As an example, we will first focus on romantic couples as an important and well-researched dyad in health behaviour change. Based on a systematic literature review and involving of a network of international experts, an internationally recognized taxonomy of dyadic behaviour change techniques will be developed,

  • that ensures a precise description of dyadic intervention content,
  • guides the development of theory-based dyadic behaviour change interventions; and
  • that facilitates a synthesis of evidence on effective dyadic behaviour change in couples across different disciplines;
  • and provides a basis for establishing future taxonomies with other dyadic constellations (e.g., parent-child, friends) or contexts (e.g., mental health, stress).


Project duration:

May 2021 until October 2024


Project management: 

Study team University of Bern:

Dr. Corina Berli (Principle Investigator, PI)

Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine, Institute of Psychology, University of Bern


UZH study team:

Prof. Dr. Urte Scholz (Co-PI)

Dr. Karoline Villinger (Investigator)                   

Chair of Applied Social and Health Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich


FUB study team:

Prof. Dr. Nina Knoll (Co-PI)

MSc. Sally Di Maio (Investigator)

Department of Health Psychology, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin


Prof. Dr. Gertraud Stadler (Co-PI)

Gender-sensitive prevention research, Institute for Gender Research in Medicine, Charité Berlin


Prof. Dr. Caterina Gawrilow (Project Partner)

Department of School Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Eberhard Karls

University of Tübingen



Project funding

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF; 10001CL_192438 / 1) & German Research Foundation (DFG; KN 937/5-1, STA 1693/1-1)