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THEORY OF PLANNED BEHAVIOR 13
THEORYOF PLANNED BEHAVIOR
Theessence of planned Behavior can be used to assess, predict andunderstand people’s behaviors long before they occur. To predict,explain and understand individuals’ unethical behaviors, Ajzen andFishbein Theory of planned behavior is applied to assess people’sintention, attitudes and beliefs that lead them to engage inunethical behaviors. Teachers would want to understand why studentscheated in exams, the judge would want to explain the attitude andbelief of the criminal who broke another persons house, psychiatristsneed to understand the motives of drug use by students or whyparticular athletes dope, a nutritionist would want to understandwhat factors lead to obesity among Chinese Americans and not JapaneseAmericans.
Inmost human behaviors there is a preplanned mode of conduct that isgoal oriented. Actions by human beings tend to follow a preplannedprocess of actions. For instance, a man who wants to a attend aconcert will first buy the tickets, possibly invite a date, weartheir best attire for that occasion, take a cab and possibilitycollect along their dates and then proceed to the concert theater.Looking at these actions there is a hint of preplanned mode ofactions planned in advance. Ideally, actions are seen as habitual orautomatic but intrinsically there is routine mode of action. Insimple and complex tasks actions human behavior tends to follow ageneral routine that is repeated over many times such that theyrequire less conscious thought to accomplish. In all these scenariosthe important aspect is the attitude, strength of belief, normativeand subjective beliefs influencing such behaviors(Manstead & Parker, 1995).
Thispaper focuses on the theory of planned behavior, its perspective,evaluation and its practical applications in real life. Morespecifically the theory will focus on relations between individualintension to behaviors how goals and plans towards particularactions guide personal behaviors and the underlying factor thatinfluence such behaviors. The first part will deal will thedescription of the theory, the second part will deal with theperspective of the theory,
Theoryof planned behavior was developed from the reasoned action theoryproposed by Ajzen, to explain and predict unethical behaviors. Theoryof reasoned action propounds that individuals behavior is influencedby intention to act the intention is a function of their attitudetowards a particular behavior and their subjective norms. In thisaspect, the intention is the cognitive presentation of individuals’readiness to act in a given manner. The intention results from threethings, attitude towards behavior, the subjective norms and theperceived control actions. Theory of planned behavior postulates thatonly particular attitudes towards individual actions can predicttheir behaviors (Manstead& Parker, 1995).A person perceived behavioral control perception that an individualholds in their ability to act in a certain way, influences theiractions (Ajzen,1985).
Therefore,the predictors instigate intentions towards particular behaviors. Theunderlying assumption is that if the subjective norms and individualsattitudes are more favorable and the perceived control influence isgreater an individual’s intention to act in a particular way willbe stronger. According to the reasoned action theory, human beingsbehave and conduct themselves in sensible way it is possible toaccount for individual actions. The theory espoused that a person’sintention to behave or not behave determines the action. In addition,an individual intention to act is determined by two factors thenature of the individual and social influence. In the nature ofpersona, underlies negative and positive evaluations of performing acertain behavior. In the social influence aspect, according to thereasoned theory of action, individuals behaviors are determined byperception of social aspects attached to the performance a particularbehavior. Social influence therefore, provides the subjectivenormative guide towards executing a particular individual behavior.This means that people tend to evaluate their actions in relation totheir belief of positive social approval (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
However,normative consideration may be overridden by individual’sattitudinal considerations in performing a particular behavior but inmost cases both factors attribute to behaviors of most people.Furthermore, the normative and attitudinal factors vary in weightfrom one individual to another. According to the theory of reasonedaction, individual’s actions are determined by individual’sbelief which links the behavior to particular positive outcome. Toillustrate this, consider a patient suffering from blood pressure,he/she may believe that modifying their diet (behavior) may reducetheir blood pressure condition and therefore changing lifestyle inrelation to approved diet (outcome)(Ajzen, 1985).
Individualsattitudes towards particular behaviors is influenced by theirevaluation of results associated with such behaviors. This means thata person who believe that behaving in a particular way will producepositive results, continues to hold that attitude in future behaviorswhile a person who believes that performing a particular behaviorleads to unfavorable outcomes may have negative attitude to futurebehaviors. These beliefs that determine individual’s attitudestowards particular actions are behavioral beliefs. For instance, acouple that decides to have additional child in their family may beinfluenced by normative beliefs from the society and individualattitudes which provides motivation to have another child. Similarly,a lady who contemplates to have an abortion, may base her decision onnormative beliefs and individual attitudes (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Thetheory of reasoned action behavior can be used to predict intentionsand actions. This is through analyzing individuals’ beliefstructure to understand the factors that influence their decision toact. The concept of belief structure and individual behaviors can beunderstood well in practical terms in the health sector research theuse of family planning methods such contraceptives drugs, pills orcondoms will be based on the couple’s belief on the effectiveness,morality and side effects. As such, if the couple is more certainthat using one family planning method is effective than the other,they will use that method. In addition, their choice of familyplanning method is subject to moral beliefs and normative beliefs ofeither partner. Therefore, many human behaviors are predictable basedon individual’s attitudes and intentions towards a particularbehavior (Ajzen,1985).
ThePsychological Perspective of the Planned behavior Theory
Selfidentity and social cognitive theory
Thetheory of planned behavior is basically psychological in nature andperspective grounded on the interplay relation between individualbeliefs and behaviors. By adding the concepts of perceived behavioralcontrol which has roots in Banduras’ 1977 self efficacy theory, theplanned behavioral theory assumes a psychological perspective.According to the self efficacy theory behavioral expectations such asfeelings and motivations determines the effect and behavior outcomes.The outcome of expected behavior influences individuals to deliberateon particular behaviors and their expected outcomes (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Inaddition the theory of planned behavior adopts a psychologicalperspective by affirming that individual’s behavior decisions arenot spontaneous but rather arise from premeditated and reasonedprocess influenced by normative, attitudes and perceived behavioralcontrol. Another important psychological perspective in the theory ofplanned behavior is the creation of self identity aspect (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Theplanned behavioral theory postulates that individual’s identitydetermines his/her behavior. Another psychological aspect is that,individuals behave in perceived autonomy based on personal beliefs,attitudes and intentions. There is systematic reasoning in regard tocertain behavioral conduct. Individuals’ actions are predeterminedby social influences parental and group influences among others.Individuals identifies with certain groups through display ofparticular behaviors (Ajzen,1985).As such the perceived subjective norm from the society reinforcesparticular individuals’ intentions. However, unlike other factorsthat motivate individuals to behave in certain way, social pressuresinhibit such motivation. In psychological perspective, when socialpressures exceed a certain point it erodes attitudes and intentions(Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Evaluationof Planned Behavioral Theory
Theplanned theory of behavior is evaluated on the basis ofIntention-behavior relation, volitional and non volitional behaviors,social norms versus individual attitudes, past and presentintentional behaviors. The theory of planned behavior is able toexplain and predict individuals non-volitional behaviors unlike thereasoned theory individuals behaviors intentions can not exclusivelydetermine individuals behavior where a person has no complete controlover such behaviors and therefore, the theory of planned behavior canexplain relationship between actions intention and actual actions byusing perceived behavioral control. Individuals intentions changeswith situations and circumstances and as such it may not be right topredict and link individuals’ behavior with intentions over time(Ajzen,1985).
PersonsBeliefs and attitudes
Anotherweakness of theory of planned behavior is that, individuals differbased on their internal self monitoring aspects and external events.Such individuals would be hard to get influenced by externalenvironments as stipulated by theory of planned in respect to socialpressures. In this respect there is high correlation of intentionalbehaviors by individuals with low self monitoring aspects than highself monitoring individuals. In addition, in circumstances of naturaldisasters it is impossible to measure and predict individuals’behaviors. For instance, in cases of floods, fire, earthquake amongother calamities peoples behavior are unpredictable. Therefore,greater accuracy of behavioral prediction depends on stability ofindividuals intentions (Norman,& Smith, 1995).
Lastly,the theory of planned action does not take into considerationvolitional and non volitional control. Simply put, though individualsmay have intentions to behave in a certain way, there is uncertaintythat their intentions will result to actions. On the same note, aperson’s belief on the negative outcome of a particular behaviormay change a person’s intention. In broader sense, individualsintentions may shift when the disadvantages of a particular behavioroutweighs advantages. For instance, business person who wants toinvest in new ventures may decide otherwise after assessing apossibility of losing his/her money and in that sense his originalintention changes (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Onthe same cue, unforeseeable and unexpected changes occur as a resultof new information this will also affect individual behaviors andnormative beliefs. This may result to intention reverse. Toillustrate this, assume a male voter who wishes to support hispreferred candidate in the election, but prior election the candidateappears on the television interview where he reveals to be gay. Themale voter who has consider gay as a social inept behavior will‘change his mind’ and decide to vote another candidate whocorresponds to his attitude and normative belief regarding gay(Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Volitionaland Non Volitional behaviors
Similarly,it is not always individuals’ behaviors are under volitionalcontrol to determine individual behavior in case of non volitionalinfluences it would not be possible to determine individuals’behavior. Intentions changes with time and in regard to newinformation. For instance, a pregnant woman who contemplates tocommit abortion because she is not married may not have differentintentions even when married based on the perceived threat thepregnancy poses to her life. Theory of planned assumes that there isa chain relation on attititudes, perceived behavioral control andnormative beliefs, by this assertion, the theory requires to havespecific measures that match the individual intended behaviors.Individuals do not necessary intend to engage in certain behaviors(Norman, & Smith, 1995).
Inaddition, theory of planned espouses that intentions leads tobehaviors but empirical research findings indicates that’s it isnot always the case. Intentions may have influence towards aparticular behavior but not necessary result to the intended actions.Myriads of factors may affect this interplay of actions andintentions. Further to this, by postulating that attitudes affectsintentions which in turn influence behaviors, peoples attitudes,intentions changes with time and therefore can not be a summativeanalysis in accurately assessing peoples behavior. Individuals do notform intentions in all behaviors performed, some behaviors are arepulse action arising from chance and opportunity (Norman,& Smith, 1995).To illustrate this, take the case of a pedestrian who withoutawareness of oncoming car abruptly hears the screeching tires behindhim/her, the persons reaction will be more of instinctive in freightrather than reasoned or intentional as theory of planned stipulates(Ajzen,1985).
Overallthe theory of planned behavior relies heavily on the cognitiveprocess to explain individual’s behaviors as such, it overlooks theemotional aspect of individual actors such as fear, mood changes andthreats will may significantly affect individuals intentionalactions. Particularly in regard to health related behaviorism, thetheory of planned behavior can not be used to accurately predict suchbehaviors which are in most cases influenced by emotions.
ScenarioI. applying the theory of Planned Behavior to healthy eatingbehaviors in urban Native American youths
Tounderstand and predict healthy eating and obesity among the youth inAmerica girls and boys were subjected to TBP model in which theirattitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control and selfefficacy were used to investigate their eating behaviors. Using Ajzenand Fishbein assessment, 39youths aged between 9 to 18years wereselected and organized in six focus groups to determine beliefs abouteating healthy and barriers to eating healthy and people whoinfluence their behavior on eating. In these focus groups theiropinions were corrected. Self efficacy was also used to predictintention behavior based on the perceived behavioral control.
Asurvey was used to collect meaning information regarding behaviors.After the administration survey, no direct references were made onthe connection between individual intention and behavior but from theinformation collected, it was found that, individuals attitudes selfefficacy and subjective norms were found to result to intentionalbehaviors associated with unhealthy eating among the boys. On thegirl’s side, it was also found that there existed no associationbetween the intention and behaviors. Just like the boys, it was foundthat attitude, perceived behavioral control and subjective norms togreat extent contributed to healthy eating behaviors. Self efficacywas found to have a negative correlation with on eating habits amongthe girls (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Inthis aspect, lack of connection between intention and behavior can beexplained in terms of intention instability. As such the youth’sintention to eat healthy food may be connected to external factorswhich keep changing. Theory of planned behavior assumes that, if theintention towards a particular behavior is stronger the greater thechance of repeating such behavior. In this case TPB was useful inpredicting variables that affect healthy eating behaviors but not onmaking predictions of indirect effects of intentions. As such othermethods may be used as interventions to enhance good eating practiceamong the youths who are overweight since attitude, subjective normsfrom the parents and self efficacy affects healthy eating.
ScenarioII. Application of Planned behavior approach to understand use ofemergency contraception
Inscenario, we refer to a group of women in the remote Ghana who rarelyuse methods of family planning but majority rely on abortion inregulating their fertility. In order to plan for the distribution offamily planning in the area, it was necessary to understand thefamily care providers decided intentions towards provision of EC. Thetheory of planned behavior, individual’s attitude towardsparticular norms and behaviors from other people’s perception mayaffect behavioral intentions (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Inaddition, as the theory of planned behavior stipulates individualintentions have great impact on motivation towards particularbehavior and therefore, perceived behavioral control in relation toopportunities, skills and resources could affect the women from usingthe emergency contraceptive. Understanding individual’s motivationsand beliefs is important especially in understanding the group orindividual influences that leads to certain actions. In this case,the providers of emergency contraceptive intention are a function oftheir attitude in the provision of emergency contraceptive(Ajzen, 1985).
Afteradministering questionnaires to patients in different hospitals,information gathered indicated that individual attitudes andperceived behavioral control influence women intention in using EC.It was also found that social influences have little effect onintentional behavior towards use of emergency contraceptives. Amongthe group of women, it was found that beliefs and attitudes in theuse of contraceptive among the Catholics Christians negativelyinfluenced their intention to use contraceptive. In addition, womenfrom wealthy families tended to have a positive attitude towardsEmergency contraceptives than women from poor families.
Furthermore,women who had prior experience in abortion tended to have positiveattitude towards use of emergency contraceptive than the rest. Inthis case therefore, according to TPB, individual attitudes,subjective norms and perceived behavioral are vital factors ininfluencing women to use EC. Therefore, the Ghanaian women wereacting and thinking without external influences on their behaviorsindividual forces were more influential than social pressures inusing emergency contraceptive (Manstead& Parker, 1995).
Theplanned behavioral theory and the reasoned action behavior theoriescan be used to predict individuals’ behaviors. However, there aresalient factors that may affect the proposition of the TPB theory inpredicting individuals’ behaviors. While study evidence support theTPB assertion that attitudes, normative and perceived behaviorcontrol influences individuals’ intention to behavior in aparticular way, it is not always true that intentions lead to theintended behaviors. Individual differences, time factor, calamitiesand innate factors may influence the routine intentional behaviors.
Thetheory of planned behavior relies heavily on the cognitive process toexplain individual’s behaviors as such, it overlooks the emotionalaspect of individual actors such as fear, mood changes and threatswill may significantly affect individuals intentional actions.Particularly in regard to health related behaviorism, unforeseeableand unexpected changes occur as a result of new information thiswill also affect individual behaviors and normative beliefs. This mayresult to intention reverse the theory of planned behavior can not beused to accurately predict such behaviors which are in most casesinfluenced by emotions.
Therefore,TPB can not effectively assume its preposition that one can assuredlypredict an individual behavior based on past pattern of correlationof intention and behaviors. Similarly, volitional and non volitionalbehaviors will lead to different behaviors as they arise thereby thepredictive accuracy of TPB diminishes. Lastly, just like the theoryof planned behavior was expanded from the theory of reasonedbehavior, TPB need expansion to accommodate other salient factorssuch as non volitional behaviors in order for the theory to have morepredictive accuracy.
Ajzen,I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior.In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action-control:From cognition to behavior (pp.11-39). Heidelberg: Springer.
Manstead,A. S. R., & Parker, D. (1995). Evaluating and extending thetheory of planned behavior. In W. Strobe & M. Hewstone (Eds.),EuropeanReview of Social Psychology(Vol. 6, pp. 69-96). Chichester,UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Norman,P., & Smith, L. (1995). The theory of planned behavior andexercise: An investigation into the role of prior behavior,behavioral intentions, and attitude variability. EuropeanJournal of Social Psychology,25,403–415.