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Theory of planned behavior

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In psychology, the theory of planned behavior is a theory about the link between attitudes and behavior. It was proposed by Icek Ajzen (his last name is sometimes spelled "Aizen") as an extension of the theory of reasoned action.

The theory of planned behavior holds that human action is guided by three kinds of considerations:

  • Beliefs about the likely outcomes of the behavior and the evaluations of these outcomes (behavioral beliefs)
  • Beliefs about the normative expectations of others and motivation to comply with these expectations (normative beliefs)
  • Beliefs about the presence of factors that may facilitate or impede performance of the behavior and the perceived power of these factors (control beliefs).

In their respective aggregates, behavioral beliefs produce a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the behavior; normative beliefs result in perceived social pressure or subjective norm; and control beliefs give rise to perceived behavioral control.

In combination, attitude toward the behavior, subjective norm, and perception of behavioral control lead to the formation of a behavioral intention. As a general rule, the more favorable the attitude and subjective norm, and the greater the perceived control, the stronger should be the person’s intention to perform the behavior in question. Finally, given a sufficient degree of actual control over the behavior, people are expected to carry out their intentions when the opportunity arises.

Intention is thus assumed to be the immediate antecedent of behavior. However, because many behaviors pose difficulties of execution that may limit volitional control, perceived behavioral control is thought to have an additional direct effect on behavior.

References

  • Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211.
  • Ajzen, I. & Madden, T. J. (1986). Prediction of goal-directed behavior: Attitudes, intentions, and perceived behavioral control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 453-474.

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