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Have you ever considered making a change for a bad habit or does ignorance seem like a bliss to you? If you’re pre-contemplative, you won’t recognize any need to change.

The behavioural change model defines pre-contemplation as a stage whereby individuals are not thinking about changing their behaviour. They do not see their behaviour as a problem.

People may be in this stage because they are unaware that a problem exists, uninformed about the consequences of their behaviour, or had multiple failed attempts in making changes and became disheartened of their abilities to change. Individuals in this phase are often labelled as “resistant” or in “denial”.

So, what are the factors that we should consider in the first stage (pre-contemplation) of the behavioural change model?

DiClemente (1991) has identified the four “R’s” as the reasons for an individual to be in the pre-contemplation stage – reluctant, rebellion, resignation and rationalization.

Reluctant: Pre-contemplators are those who through lack of knowledge or inertia do not want to consider change. The impact of the problem has not become fully conscious.

Rebellious: Pre-contemplators have a heavy investment in their bad habit and in making their own decisions. They are resistant to being told what to do.

Resigned: Pre-contemplators have given up hope about the possibility of change and seem overwhelmed by the problem. Many have made many attempts to quit or control their bad habit.

Rationalizing: Pre-contemplators have all the answers; they have plenty of reasons why their bad habit is not a problem, or why it is a problem for others but not for them.

Let us discuss some of the tasks that should be carried out in the HR space in helping a


  • A person in the precontemplation stage should first identify or help their colleagues identify “the problem”
  • Secondly, they should be aware of the difference between reason and rationalization of a bad habit. An individual may choose to continue the behaviour despite being well aware of the risks and problems.
  • You should be aware that more is not always the best option for yourself in the precontemplation stage or your colleague if they might be in this stage. Higher intensity will produce fewer result with the pre-contemplators. One should increase the individuals’ perceptions of risks and problems with the existing behaviour.
  • You should remember that the goals is not to make pre-contemplators (yourself or your colleague) change immediately, but to help them move to contemplation.

This stage involves making small steps in seeking for help and in identifying the actual problem. People in this stage often deny their bad habit. They should remember to not make huge changes but small steps to help them progress through to the next stage which is contemplation.

Continue to follow us to learn more intervention strategies in the next article!

By Darnisha & Lisa