The Theory of Planned Behavior

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Theory of planned behavior
The Theory of Planned Behavior

The Theory of Planned behavior made its debut in 1980, as the Theory of Reasoned Action. The mastermind behind it was named Icek Ajzen. It was meant to predict someone’s intention to do something at a specific place and time. The goal of the theory was to determine and explain all the behaviors that people have the ability to use self-control with. This theory was grounded with many attitude theories to include, attitude, behavioral intention, subjective norms, social norms, perceived power and perceived behavior control. Each of these had a very different meaning but all held the same weight in the theory. It has to be stated though that all of these are voluntary reactions that are made without the demand or request of an outside source. The theory does not work in situations where people are required or forced to react a certain way; such as those who serve in the military.

Attitude

The Theory of Planned behavior use attitude as on of the attribute. attitude is the degree in which a person has a positive or negative outlook on the particular behavior of interest. It includes a mental evaluation of the possible outcomes of the behavior. For example, if a person believes that something will work out for them, then they will have a happy attitude towards it, but if they think it will end horribly and cause problems, they are more likely to have a negative attitude towards the subject.

Behavioral Intention

This is when the motivational side of things comes into play in Theory of Planned behavior. When someone has a greater motivation to do something, they are more likely to do it. For example, if a person has wanted to go and get a tattoo, he is more than likely to do it compared to something that he has not been wanting to do, such as clean out his home’s gutters.

Subjective Norms

Subjective norms are when a person considers what the people around them and the people they know will think of a particular behavior that they are considering engaging in. If they believe it will result in a positive public opinion of themselves then they are more likely to do it. For Example, if a business owner is looking for a way to impress the public to usher in new support for his fledgling business, he may decide to donate money or property to local schools to impress the students’ parents and improve their opinions of his business. That is why subjective norms are important part of The Theory of Planned behavior.

Social Norms

Just like subjective norms social norms are another corner stone of theory of planned behavior. Social norms are when your reactions are based on what is generally accepted by the group or family involved. They are a group’s standard or tradition and typically do not change easily. For example, if a family has a tradition of being carpenters and the eldest son is faced with a decision on which profession to go into; carpentry would be his decision because his family’s traditional profession is carpentry.

Perceived Power

If a person believes that certain variables will increase or decrease their chances of success, then according The Theory of Planned behavior they are perceiving or anticipating their power. For example, if a person believes that if they attempt to build a dog house they will have an advantage because they own a table saw, then they are more likely to attempt it; but if they do not own a table saw and that causes them to believe that the task will be much more difficult, they may not even attempt it.

Counter Arguments

While all of the above perceptions are generally considered accurate today, there has been a counterclaim to this theory. That counter argument is that due to circumstantial limitations, a person’s intentions can be entirely different from what actually happens. Before this claim was made the addition of “Perceived Behavioral Control” had not been made yet.

Perceived Behavioral Control

This is when a person’s personal beliefs influence their decision to do something. If a person believes they can succeed in a particular behavior they are more likely to try it out than if they believe they will fail. For example, if a person believes that they can easily build a dog house then they are more likely to try; but if they think it will be very hard and the end result will look bad, then they are more likely to give up on the notion all together.

Uses

The Theory of Planned Behavior has been used recently to address many issues in modern day society, such as obesity, cigarette abuse, alcohol abuse and premarital sex without the use of condoms. All of which are considered voluntary choices that were made by someone using one of the thought processes above. The theory has received a lot of criticism though. Some critics believe that the theory isn’t sufficient. They believe that some factors should be added in order to make the theory work better. These include self-identity, need, affect, desire, and personal and moral norms, as well as past behaviors. They believe that without these factors the theory is not accurate enough.

Another major critique is that some believe the theories idea of reasoned action is representing only one mode of operation, the deliberate or controlled mode, when in fact there are several others. They believe the theory leaves out important personal modes, such as spontaneous decision making, which is done without a large amount of thought put into the decision.

In the end the decision lies with the reader. While both the author of the theory and they critics have made credible and valid points, society must be left to make the decision. This is in itself a grand example of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Will society alter the theory by adding in the theories critics ideas? Or will society decide to stay with the modern day cultural norm that is the Theory of Planned Behavior? Nobody can argue that this is a decision for only one person to make. The collective scientific community will have to decide if there are going to be changes, a resumption of the status quo, or a new theory all together.

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