Theory of Planned Behavior
Theory of a planned behavior links behavior and beliefs. Icek Ajzen proposed this concept in a bid to improve the reasoned action theory predictive power. He did this by including the perceived behavioral control. This theory is among the major predictive persuasion concepts. Theory of planned behavior has been used in studying relations among attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and behavioral intentions in different fields including public relations, advertising, healthcare and advertising campaigns.
It states that behaviors and intentions of an individual are shaped by perceived behavioral control, subjective norms and attitude towards behaviors. This theory started as a reasoned act theory in 1980 in predicting the intention of an individual to engage in a particular behavior at a given place and time.
The intention of this theory was to explain behaviors on which individuals can exert self-control. Behavior intent is the main component of this theory. Attitude on the likelihood of a behavior causing the expected result and subjective evaluation of the benefits and risks of the result influence behavior intentions.
Theory of planned behavior has successfully helped in predicting and explaining various health intentions and behaviors. These include drinking, smoking, utilization of health services, substance use and breastfeeding among others. According to this theory, behavioral achievements are based on ability or behavioral control and motivation or intention.
The theory distinguishes three categories of beliefs. These are normative beliefs, control and behavioral. It has six constructs that represents actual control over behavior of an individual. These constructs are attitudes, behavioral intention, subjective norms, social norms, perceived power, and behavioral control.
Just like any other theory, theory of planned behavior has its limitations. For instance, this theory assumes that individuals have acquired the resources and opportunities that are required to succeed in performing desired behaviors regardless of their intention. The theory does not also account for some variables that influence motivation and behavioral intention such as threat, fear, past experience and mood.
Although the theory considers normative influence, it does not consider economic and environmental factors that can influence the intention of an individual to engage in a behavior. This theory also assumes that a behavior results from a linear decision making process. It fails to consider changes that may occur with time.
In addition, this theory does not do much about real control over a behavior. It fails to address the time between the intent and the behavioral action. Nevertheless, this theory has been of great importance in public health studies despite having these limitations.
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