Theory of Planned Behaviour - Psychology A Unit 4 Edexcel

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Theory of planned behaviour
Assumptions ­ Ajzen, 1989: theory of planned behaviour is a cognitive theory about factors that lead a person to
decide to engage in a particular behaviour. It is based on the idea that a person's intention of performing a given
behaviour is the best predictor of whether or not that person will actually engage in the behaviour. Intention has
three factors:
1) Behavioural attitude: the individual's attitude towards the behaviour, formed on the basis of beliefs about
the consequences of performing the behaviour and whether they will be good or bad
2) Subjective norms: the individual's awareness of subjective norms based around the particular behaviour
3) Perceived behavioural control: acts either on the intention to behave a particular way, or directly on the
behaviour itself
Godin et al, 2002: examined the extent to which TPB could explain smoking intentions and behaviours in
adults intending to quit smoking, using questionnaires and interviews. Found that whilst all three factors help
explain initiation, only PBC helps to predict the ultimate behaviour. They concluded that prevention
programmes should help adults focus on the willpower needed to give up.
White et al, 2008: studied sun addiction in over 1000 12-20 year olds in Queensland, Australia. They
completed a questionnaire assessing the TPB predictors, participants recorded their sun behaviour over a
fortnight. Results showed that TPB components were a significant predictor of intentions to engage in sun
protection, and these intentions were significant predictors of actual behaviour.
Cultural bias, age bias, Hawthorne effect, methodological issues ­ questionnaires are unreliable, participants
can lie
Armitage et al, 1999: criticised TPB for being too rational, failing to take into account emotions, compulsions
or other irrational determinants of human behaviour
Albarracin et al, 2005: the presence of strong emotions could be used to explain people's failure to give up
an addiction, as emotions may cause them to act irrationally by failing to carry out an intended behaviour (e.g.
stopping drinking) even though it is in their best interest to do so
Topa and Moriano, 2010: suggest that TPB ignores many factors, like identification with peers, which could
play a mediating role in the relation with addictive behaviours
Klag, 2003: self-determination theory is preferable to TPB because it emphasises the importance of
Warshaw and Davis, 1985: a distinction should be made between expectation and intention
Armitage and Conner, 2001: a smoker may expect to have given up smoking in 5 years' time (i.e. think it
likely) but have no intention to give up currently (i.e. no definite plan of when to stop)
Macdonald et al, 1996: alcohol and drugs can be an big influencer on behaviour; alcohol intoxication
increases intention to engage in unprotected sex and other risky behaviours
Netemeyer et al, 1991: PBC can be important in some activities but not in others, for example it has little
contribution to intentions to eat convenience food, but is a large predictor of the intention to lose weight
TPB as a model for prevention
Changing behavioural attitude ­ The US ONDCP launched a campaign in 2005 to discourage the use of marijuana in
teenagers. It tried to create a different attitude toward the use, namely that it is inconsistent with being autonomous
and achieving aspirations. Slater et al, 2011: did a review on the effectiveness of the campaign, and found that the
targets on attitudes may be the key to the success of the current campaign.
Changing subjective norms ­ anti-drug campaigns seek to give adolescents actual data about the percentage of
people engaging in risky behaviour
Wilson and Kolander, 2003: pointed out that adolescents who smoke are normally part of a group of
friends who all smoke, and so smoking is seen as normal. However, most teens to not smoke, and therefore
exposure to accurate statistical information could correct subjective norms and should be part of an effective
Self-efficacy ­ intentions to change behaviour will be stronger in people who have an increased sense of control.
Majer et al, 2004: investigated the role of cognitive factors, including self-efficacy, on abstinence. They
found that encouraging the addict's belied in their ability to abstain was related to optimism, and ultimately a

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Therefore, they concluded that the higher an individual's self-efficacy, the more likely they
are to give up an addiction.
Internet ­ increasingly used to promote health behaviour change
Webb et al, 2010: meta-analysis of 85 studies on internet intervention and found that those based on a
theoretical theory (such as TPB) tended to have a greater success, suggesting that TPB can have an important
role in the development of internet prevention programmes.…read more


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