CEOS Theory: Context, Executive, and Operational Systems Theory

CEOS Theory


What is CEOS Theory?

CEOS Theory is a model for understanding how and why some behaviour change is difficult to maintain, for example giving up smoking and other addictions, sticking to a diet, keeping going with New Year’s resolutions like new fitness regimes, working differently etc. CEOS Theory focusses on the interaction between conscious and non-conscious influences on behaviour and is aimed at explaining and exploring the limits of rational choice and behaviour. CEOS is an acronym for Context, Executive, and Operational Systems.

CEOS Theory was developed from a mixture of Social Ecological Theory (Borland, Owen, Hill, & Chapman, 1994; Sallis, Owen, & Fisher, 2008); and Expectancy-Value Theory (Ajzen, 1991; Becker & Murphy, 1988; Rosenstock, Strecher, & Becker, 1988) by Ron Borland (Borland, 2016).

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Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.

Becker, G., & Murphy, K. (1988). A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy, 96(4), 675–700.

Borland, R. (2016). CEOS Theory: A Comprehensive Approach to Understanding Hard to Maintain Behaviour Change. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being.

Borland, R., Owen, N., Hill, D., & Chapman, S. (1994). Regulatory innovations, behaviour and health: Implications of research on workplace smoking bans. In S. Maes, H. Leventhal, & M. Johnson (Eds.), International review of health psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 167–185). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Rosenstock, I.M., Strecher, V.J., & Becker, M.H. (1988). Social learning theory and the health belief model. Health Education & Behavior, 15(2), 175–183. doi:10.1177/109019818801500203

Sallis, J., Owen, N., & Fisher, E. (2008). Ecological models of health behavior. In K. Glanz, B. Rimer, & K. Viswanath (Eds.), Health behavior and health education theory: Research and practice (4th edn., pp. 465–485). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint.

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