The theory of planned behavior was developed by Fishbein and Ajzen in 1985. The model indicates that behavior can best be explained by the intention a person has to actually conduct it. The theory helps with determining a strategy to change unwanted behavior.
In the theory of planned behavior, intention is determined by three factors:
- Attitude: an individual’s evaluation of self-performance of the behavior
- Subjective norms: peer pressure and influence by significant others
- Perceived control: the degree to which someone thinks to actually perform the behavior
An attitude or belief is an attitude towards something or someone. It is a cognition or thought with some aversion or attraction (emotional valence). Attitudes are determined by what is the expected outcome of a certain behavior. Basically, an attitude is an evaluative judgement about a stimulus object (a thing, a concept, a person, etc.) An attitude may change temporarily or permanently. A temporary change of attitude will lead to less sustainable behavior.
Example: Running is an effective method to get fit.
The behavior of an individual changes to make it fit with others. Not because they seem to know better, but because one wants to remain member of a group. To avoid the pain of being rejected and ridiculed. And to keep receiving group benefits. It is possible that an individual conforms to certain behavior without believing that it is correct. This is called ‘public compliance’. It can be the result of normative social influence and does not necessarily lead to private acceptance of group beliefs and behaviors.
Example: A woman thinks her man wants her to get fit.
Perceived behavioral control refers to people’s perceptions of their ability to perform a given behavior. It is determined by the total set of accessible control beliefs. These are beliefs about the presence of factors and resources that may impede or facilitate the behavior. The greater the perceived control, the stronger the person’s intention to perform the behavior in question.
Example: I am fit and there’s a track down the road from home.
The intention to actually perform and change behavior is achieved by a balance between attitude, subjective norms and perceived control.