Making Decisions About Taking Medicines: A Social Coordination Process


  • Amrei C. Joerchel University of Vienna
  • Jaan Valsiner Clark University



medication, illnesses, decision making, cognitive heuristics, macrogenetic and micro­genetic processes


How do people decide to take medica­tion? When is it necessary to do something about the condition one is in when falling ill? These questions require answers at two levels—first at the general decision structure of what features of thinking processes are coordinated to make the decision (the macrogenetic model), and how the actual decision process works individually (the microgenetic model). Both models are described, and selected case analyses from an interview study of 25 young adults are presented. Based on the evidence we show that each and every subject makes use of the same macrogenetic and micro­genetic models. Our evidence also shows that the folk model—"the body as a machine"—is present in every interview. Such general folk models frame the intricate decision making process between the microgenetic and macrogenetic levels. The act of taking medicine while facing a minor impending illness is a complex psychological process de­scribed and discussed in this paper. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0401171


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Author Biographies

Amrei C. Joerchel, University of Vienna

Amrei C. JOERCHEL, Social Psychology student in the MSc Program at London School of Political and Economic Sciences

Jaan Valsiner, Clark University

Jaan VALSINER (, Professor and Chair of the Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology, Clark University




How to Cite

Joerchel, A. C., & Valsiner, J. (2004). Making Decisions About Taking Medicines: A Social Coordination Process. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 5(1).

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