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The focus of this paper is on research evidence supporting the applications of the theory of planned behaviour in several ways and in different circumstances. The theoretical and empirical evidence that supports the inclusion of six variables in the theory of planned behaviour is analysed. It is the aim of the paper to approach the model on the premises of two avenues, which are supported by the six variables.
The theory of planned behaviour initially emerged as the theory of reasoned behaviour with an aim of predicting a person’s intention to engage in a particular attitude at a specific place and time. The central component of this model is based on intent.
It is important to note that intentions are influenced by the attitude on the probability that the particular attitude will have the anticipated results and the subjective assessment of the benefits and risks of that result. Essentially, the theory outlines how attitudes predict human attitudes (Dainton & Zelley, 2010). Indeed, the theory explains that human behaviour is a product of three basic guidelines.
The first one is people’s attitude towards the behaviour, which is whether individuals have a negative or positive perception of the particular behaviour. The second guideline regards people’s view of the attitudes and social pressure to act or not to act the behaviour.
Finally, the third guideline encapsulates the individuals’ belief on how hard or easy it is to act or perform the behaviour. The model has been utilised successfully to forecast and explain a diverse range of certain health behaviours and intentions such as drinking, smoking, substance abuse, health services utilisation and many more (Feng, 2007).
Based on the above factors, this paper attempts to clarify the following research questions whose solutions will help in discerning the true meaning and applicability of the theory of planned behavior:
- How accurately should prior/past behaviour be modelled in order to raise the predictive strength of the theory of planned behaviour?
- What roles do past behaviours play in modeling the framework of the theory of planned behaviour?
- Is the model supported by some strategies that are adopted in analysing data?
- Could some approaches used in processing data be extended to have features of the behavioural model?
Numerous tests that have been carried out on the effectiveness of the behaviour platform have presented substantial evidence for the predictive validity of intentions. Numerous meta-analytic reviews such as the applicability of the theory in the context of social or health behaviour have highlighted this relationship.
Furthermore, several meta-analyses have confirmed the applicability of this theory in general, but the question still emerges on whether the demonstrated variations in behaviour are good enough since large percentages (72%) in variances remain unexplained. It would be essential to know the degree of impact of intentions on attitudes of people.
Thus, what determines how accurately intentions influence behaviour? This could be approached using two considerable aspects. Firstly, the conditions that generally underlie the predictive power of the theory, and secondly, the concrete determinants of intentions and behaviour beyond the aspects of the standard model (Dainton & Zelley, 2010).
An example of the application of the theory of planned behaviour is a person harbouring a goal to sell, for example, $50,000 worth of products in one month over a given media platform. If such an individual believes that they can achieve that goal and bear a positive attitude and immense confidence in the effectiveness of the selected media outlet, then they will most likely succeed.
If this person does not believe that they can succeed or if they bear a negative attitude on the goal at hand, then his or her behaviour is likely to reflect such perceptions and such individuals will most likely fail to achieve their targets. This differs substantially from the self-perception theory since the latter states that behaviour begets an attitude (Huang and Chuang, 2007).
On the other hand, it has been noted that the theory of planned behavior explains that attitude causes the behavior. For example, a person could have negative perceptions towards a part of his or her job, but such a person may still desire to do well and perform their assigned tasks well so that they can keep their job (Feng, 2007).
Analysis of the Information Gathered
The information above highlights very important aspects with regard to the planned behaviour model. It is apparent that persons could be influenced to make decisions on the premises of two mental events. These are the events that are important in high level cognition and low level cognition (Nabi & Kremar, 2006). It is important to note the differences between the two methods of processing mental information.
These are heuristic and deliberate events. In addition, the results indicate that there could be a correlation between intentions and attitudes with regard past behaviours. It is worth noting that best predictions of behaviour can be made using intentions, which greatly differ among persons (Hartmann, 2012; Loewenstein & Lerner, 2003).
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The model of planned behaviour is an improvement of the theory of reasoned action, which has generated a lot of consideration in the field of social psychology.
The two approaches of behaviour have important applications in explaining the impact of motivation and past information on people. In addition, they imply that individuals make informed decisions based on the careful considerations that are determined by information. This can be presented diagrammatically as shown in appendix 1.
How It Could Be Done Differently
It appears necessary to present a clear distinction on the two concepts that have been explained above. The above research argues that the deliberative and the heuristic information processing models characterise the theory of planned behaviour.
It would be important to include more research questions in future studies so that more data would be collected and analysed. In addition, future studies could be done differently by focusing on the impact of social norms and attitudes that vary among individuals.
It is apparent that the planned behavior model has important social implications that have diverse applications with regard to the study of human behaviour. In fact, the usefulness of the approach is supported by scientific data and results.
The limitations that have been noted in the applicability of this theory suggest that there is room for more research on certain key areas such as moral norms, self-identity, belief salience, and affective beliefs.
Although the model has diverse applications, it has been shown that it is best applied in situations that are characterised by high levels of opportunities and motivation. Thus, in situations where any of the parameters could be absent, there could be a high likelihood of behaviour being impacted by cognitive functions of individuals.
Dainton, M. & Zelley, E. (2010) Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life: A Practical Introduction (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Feng, H (2007). An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior to Support Provision Communication Behaviors across Cultures. Michigan, MI: Pro-Quest
Hartmann, T (2012). Media Choice: A Theoretical and Empirical Overview. London, United Kingdom: Routledge
Huang, E. and Chuang, M. (2007). Extending the theory of planned Behavior as a Model to explain post-merger employee behavior. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(4), 247-257.
Loewenstein, G. & Lerner, J. (2003). The role of effect in decision-making. Handbook of Affective Sciences, 621-642. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Nabi, R. & Kremar, M. (2006). Conceptualizing media enjoyment as attitude: Implications for mass media effects research. Communication Theory, 4(14), 294-308.
A flow chart diagram representing the various aspects of the planned behavior model.