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The Theory of Planned Behaviour

The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

TRA posits that individual behaviour is driven by behavioural intentions where behavioural intentions are a function of an individual's attitude toward the behaviour and subjective norms surrounding the performance of the behaviour.

Attitude toward the behaviour is defined as the individual's positive or negative feelings about performing a behaviour. It is determined through an assessment of one's beliefs regarding the consequences arising from a behaviour and an evaluation of the desirability of these consequences. Formally, overall attitude can be assessed as the sum of the individual consequence x desirability assessments for all expected consequences of the behaviour.

Subjective norm is defined as an individual's perception of whether people important to the individual think the behaviour should be performed. The contribution of the opinion of any given referent is weighted by the motivation that an individual has to comply with the wishes of that referent. Hence, overall subjective norm can be expressed as the sum of the individual perception x motivation assessments for all relevant referents.

Core Assumptions and Statements

Theory of Reasoned Action suggests that a person's behaviour is determined by his/her intention to perform the behaviour and that this intention is, in turn, a

function of his/her attitude toward the behaviour and his/her subjective norm.

The best predictor of behaviour is intention. Intention is the cognitive representation of a person's readiness to perform a given behaviour, and it is considered to be the immediate antecedent of behaviour.

This intention is determined by three things: their attitude toward the specific behaviour, their subjective norms and their perceived behavioural control.

The theory of planned behaviour holds that only specific attitudes toward the behaviour in question can be expected to predict that behaviour. In addition to measuring attitudes toward the behaviour, we also need to measure people’s subjective norms – their beliefs about how people they care about will view the behaviour in question.

To predict someone’s intentions, knowing these beliefs can be as important as knowing the person’s attitudes.

Finally, perceived behavioural control influences intentions. Perceived behavioural control refers to people's perceptions of their ability to perform a given behaviour. These predictors lead to intention.

A general rule, the more favourable the attitude and the subjective norm, and the greater the perceived control the stronger should the person’s intention to perform the behaviour in question.

β β1 = w1AB + w2SN

B = Behaviour B1 = Behavioural intention AB = Attitude toward behaviour SN = Subjective Norm W1 & W2 = Weights

The model has some limitations including a significant risk of confounding between attitudes and norms since attitudes can often be reframed as norms and vice versa. A second limitation is the assumption that when someone forms an intention to act, they will be free to act without limitation.

In practice, constraints such as limited ability, time, environmental or organisational limits, and unconscious habits will limit the freedom to act. The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) attempts to resolve this limitation.

Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)

TAM is an adaptation of the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) to the field of IS. TAM posits that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use determine an individual's intention to use a system with intention to use serving as a mediator of actual system use. Perceived usefulness is also seen as being directly impacted by perceived ease of use.

Researchers have simplified TAM by removing the attitude construct found in TRA from the current specification (Venkatesh et. al., 2003).

Attempts to extend TAM have generally taken one of three approaches: by introducing factors from related models, by introducing additional or alternative belief factors, and by examining antecedents and moderators of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Wixom and Todd, 2005).

TRA and TAM, both of which have strong behavioural elements, assume that when someone forms an intention to act, that they will be free to act without limitation.

In practice constraints such as limited ability, time, environmental or organisational limits, and unconscious habits will limit the freedom to act.

How the Theory of Planned Behaviour Works

The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) was developed by Ajzen in 1988. The theory proposes a model which can measure how human actions are guided. It predicts the occurrence of a particular behaviour, provided that behaviour is intentional.

The model is out lined in the next figure and represents the three variables which the

theory suggests will predict the intention to perform a behaviour. precursors of behaviour.

The intentions are the

Ajzen and Fishbein formulated in 1980 the theory of reasoned action (TRA). This resulted from attitude research from the Expectancy Value Models. Ajzen and Fishbein formulated the TRA after trying to estimate the discrepancy between attitude and behaviour.

This TRA was related to voluntary behaviour. Later on behaviour appeared not to be 100% voluntary and under control, this resulted in the addition of perceived behavioural control. With this addition the theory was called the theory of planned behaviour (TpB).

The theory of planned behaviour is a theory which predicts deliberate behaviour, because behaviour can be deliberative and planned.

The variable names in the model reflect psychological constructs and so they have meaning within the theory.

Behaviour

In implementation research, interventions are designed to change the behaviour of individuals. The target behaviour should be defined carefully in terms of its Target, Action and Time.

In a transport context this is the target is the commuter, action is the trip, context is the type of trip and time is the time taken to travel.

Intention

Although there is not a perfect relationship between behavioural intention and actual behaviour, intention can be used a proxy measure of behaviour. This observation is one of the most important contributions of the TPB model compared to previous models of the attitude-behaviour relationship.

Therefore, the variables in this model can be used to determine the effectiveness of the implementation interventions even if there is not a readily measure of actual behaviour.

Attitudes towards the behaviour

Attitude toward the behaviour is a persons overall evaluation of the behaviour. It is assumed to have two components which work together: beliefs about consequences of the behaviour (behavioural beliefs: by providing a new LRT system it will increase public transport trips) and the corresponding positive or negative judgements about each of these features of the behaviour (outcome evaluations: decreasing car trips is desirable).

Subjective Norms (about the behaviour)

Subjective norms are a persons own estimate of the social pressure to perform the target behaviour. Subjective norms are assumed to have two components which work in interaction: beliefs about how other people, who may be in some way important to the person, would like them to behave (normative beliefs).

Perceived behavioural control

Perceived behavioural control is the extent to which a person feels able to enact the behaviour. It has two aspects: how much a person has control over the behaviour and how confident a person feels about being able to perform or not perform the behaviour. It is determined by control beliefs about the power of both situational and internal factors to inhibit or facilitate the performing of the behaviour.

Direct measures and indirect (belief-based) measures

With the exception of behaviour, the variables in the TPB model are psychological (internal) constructs. Each predictor variable may be measured directly e.g. by asking respondents about specific behavioural beliefs and outcome evaluations. Direct and indirect measurement approaches make different assumptions about the underlying cognitive structures and neither approach is perfect.

When different methods are tapping the same construct, scores are expected to be positively correlated, so it is recommended that both be included in TPB questionnaires.

Reliability

It is important to establish the reliability of each measure. For direct measures, one form of reliability may be established using an index of internal consistency (to determine whether the items in the scale are measuring the same construct). However, because people can quite logically hold both positive and negative beliefs about the same behaviour, it is not appropriate to assess the reliability of indirect measures using an internal consistency criterion.

Steps in the construction of a TRB Questionnaire

The construction of a questionnaire to measure the variables in the TPB mode proceeds in nine phases:

  • 1. Define the population of interest, decide how best to select a representative sample from this population.

  • 2. Carefully define the behaviour under study, using the TACT principle.

  • 3. Decide how best to measure intentions.

  • 4. Determine the most frequently perceived advantages and disadvantages of performing the behaviour

  • 5. Determine the most important people or groups of people who would approve or disapprove of the behaviour

  • 6. Determine the perceived barriers or facilitating factors which could make it easier or more difficult to adopt the behaviour.

  • 7. For a standard TBP-based study, include items to measure all of these constructs in the first draft of the questionnaire.

  • 8. Pilot test the draft and reword items if necessary.

  • 9. Assess the test-retest reliability of the indirect measures by administering the questionnaire twice to the same group of people, with an interval of at least two weeks.

Measuring Behavioural Intentions

Typically there are three methods of measuring behavioural intentions.

Method 1: Intention performance

This first method is used in situations where in some situations where it is possible to observe actual behaviour.

Method 2: Generalised intention

This is the most commonly used method, whereby when investigating the behaviour where multiple options are possible.

Method 3: Intention simulation

This method uses scenarios for respondents to evaluate and make choices based upon the information provided. This is similar to a discrete choice method.

Measuring Attitudes

Direct measurement of attitude

Method

  • - Direct measurement involves the use of bipolar adjectives (very good – very poor).

  • - Ideally use about four items following a single stem which identifies the behaviour under investigation. For example, measuring the uses of public transport based upon aspects of the service such as frequency, comfort etc.

  • - Use a good bad – good scale to provide an evaluation method.

Measuring Attitudes Direct measurement of attitude Method - Direct measurement involves the use of bipolar adjectives

Scoring

  • - Recode the items that have negatively worded endpoints on the right so that higher numbers always reflect a positive attitude to the target behaviour.

  • - It is important that the attitude items have high internal consistency, i.e. scores on these items correlate highly with each other.

  • - Calculate the mean of the item scores to give an overall attitude score.

Indirect measurement of attitude: measuring behavioural beliefs and outcome evaluations

Stages of development:

Conduct and elicitation study

  • - Take a sample from the population from which you will select respondents for the questionnaire study.

  • - Use open-ended questions. These are normally presented in one-to-one interviews, but could also be in focus group or questionnaire form.

  • - Content analyse the responses into themes (behavioural beliefs) and label the themes extracted. To increase the validity of the analysis, at least two researchers should do this independently.

  • - Using this method you ask the respondents to list the benefits of a given good or service.

Measuring Subjective Norms

Procedure

  • - Direct measurement involves the use of questions referring to the options of important people in general

  • - Use the first three items in the format below

Measuring Subjective Norms Procedure - Direct measurement involves the use of questions referring to the options
  • - Where the response format completes an otherwise incomplete sentence

Scoring:

  • - Recode the items that have negatively worded endpoints on the right, so that high scores then consistently reflect greater social pressure to do the target behaviour

  • - It is important that the subjective norm items have high internal consistency, i.e. that the scores on these items correlate highly with each other.

  • - Calculate the mean of the item scores to give an overall subjective norm score.

Measuring Perceived Behavioural Control

  • - Items should reflect peoples confidence that they are capable of performing the target behaviour. This can be achieved assessing the persons self efficacy and their beliefs about the controllability of the behaviour.

  • - Self-efficacy is assessed by asking people to report

    • - How difficult it is to perform the behaviour

    • - How confident they are that they could do it.

-Controllability is assessed by asking people to report -Whether performing the behaviour is up to them - whether factors beyond their control determine their behaviour

- Remember that where the response format completes an otherwise incomplete sentence, arrange the items so that the ends of the scales are a mix of positive and negative end points.

Scoring - Recode the items that have negative endpoints on the right, so that scores then

Scoring

  • - Recode the items that have negative endpoints on the right, so that scores then consistently reflect a greater level of control over the target behaviour.

  • - It is important that the subjective norm items have high internal consistency, i.e. that scores correlate highly with each other.

  • - Calculate the mean of the item scores to give an overall perceived behavioural control score.

Changing Speeding Behaviour in Scotland: The 'Foolsspeed' campaign

'Foolsspeed' is a five-year campaign by the Scottish Road Safety Campaign designed to reduce the use of inappropriate and excessive speed on Scotland's roads.

A major component of the campaign is a focused and structured mass media campaign underpinned by the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen 1988), a model which explains and predicts behaviour in terms of key psychological determinants.

The TPB was used to shape a series of television advertisements, each designed to address a key determinant of behavioural intention according to the TPB: attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control.

In November 1998 a series of six 10-second television advertisements introduced the campaign logo and key messages. These were accompanied by publicity materials and unpaid publicity activity to create widespread exposure to the campaign logo, thereby reinforcing the television advertising.

The 2 nd phase of the campaign in 1999 comprised a 40-second television advertisement, "Mirror", designed to address attitudes regarding speeding and speed choice.

The 3 rd phase of the campaign, in 2000, comprised a 40-second television advertisement, "Friends and Family", which was designed to address subjective norms in relation to speeding.

A 4 th phase in 2001 featured a television advertisement, "Simon Says", designed to address the third main component of TPB, perceived behavioural control.

The 1999 "Mirror" Advert: Attitudes

The first advert was designed to address the attitudes component of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. It sought to challenge the beliefs that speeding in town saves time, that a speeding driver is fully in control of the car, and that he or she is able to stop quickly in an emergency if necessary.

Beliefs about inappropriate speed (as opposed to excessive) speeding were challenged by demonstrating that 30mph, although the legal speed limit may be too fast in certain circumstances. The advertisement also sought to challenge the more general belief 'I'm a better driver than most'.

The 2000 "Friends and Family" Advert: Subjective Norms

The second advert, in Spring 2000, was designed to address the subjective norms component of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. This concerns drivers' perceptions of how much significant others in their lives would approve or disapprove of their speeding, combined with their level of motivation to drive in

a way that would meet the approval of these significant others.

The 2001 "Simon Says" Advert: Perceived Behavioural Control

The third advertisement of the campaign was designed to address perceived behavioural control - that is, drivers' perceptions of how easy or difficult it is to increase their control over their speeding. This was possibly the most difficult of the TPB components to translate into advertising. The creative brief for the advertising postulated that the advertisement should seek to challenge drivers with the sentiment 'you're responsible for the way you drive', by depicting typical internal and external pressures which encourage drivers to speed and demonstrating that it is possible and desirable to withstand such pressures.

Evaluation of the Foolsspeed Project

Foolsspeed was evaluated using a three-year longitudinal survey with a sample of 550 drivers in the west of Scotland. A baseline survey was conducted in October 1998, before the start of the Foolsspeed campaign, and took measures of respondents' demographic and driving characteristics and of the full raft of Theory of Planned Behaviour components.

Follow-up surveys with the same sample were conducted in Spring 1999, Spring 2000 and Summer 2001.

These follow-up surveys repeated the measures taken at the baseline survey, and also assessed response to the Foolsspeed campaign in terms of awareness, recall, comprehension, identification, involvement and perceptions of key messages.

Questionnaire Measures

The baseline questionnaire took measures of driver attitudes, subjective norms,

perceived behavioural control, intentions and reported speeding behaviour, in accordance with the Theory of Planned Behaviour.

The questionnaire also included questions about driving behaviour such as mileage, length of time qualified, and frequency, purpose and destination of journeys.

This allowed the possibility of analysing, at a future stage, variations between different types of driver (e.g. social drivers versus those who drive for a living, heavy road users versus light road users, newer drivers versus more experienced drivers, and so on), as well as between different socio- demographic groups.

Behavioural intentions

These were measured using three statements: 'I would probably drive faster than 30mph myself in this situation', 'I would never drive faster than 30mph in this situation', and 'In this situation I would want to driver faster than 30mph'. Reliability analysis showed that these items were highly consistent

Behavioural beliefs

On possible consequences (both good and bad) of speeding in the scenario described were used in the survey. Speeding was defined as driving at 40mph in the situation described. The eight behavioural beliefs were identified from the questionnaire piloting exercise and also from other studies.

Respondents were asked to indicate how likely or unlikely they judged each of the consequences (e.g. 'If I drove down this road at 40 mph I would find it difficult to stop in an emergency'). Reliability for the behavioural belief items was relatively high (alpha=0.71).

Outcome evaluations

These were measured using eight statements corresponding to the behavioural belief statements. For these, respondents were invited to indicate how desirable or undesirable each outcome would be (e.g. 'Finding it difficult to stop in an emergency would be…').

These two sets of items were summed using the TPB formula to produce a composite attitude towards the behaviour. Reliability for the outcome evaluation items was adequate (alpha=0.60).

Normative beliefs

Were measured with eleven items in which respondents were asked to indicate how much various significant others (or 'salient referents') would approve or disapprove of their speeding (i.e. driving at 40mph) in the scenario described. Again, these salient referents were identified from the piloting exercise and from previous studies (e.g. Parker et al 1992).

Motivation to comply was assessed by asking respondents to indicate the extent to which they generally liked to drive in a manner of which each referent would approve. These two sets of items were summed using the TPB formula to produce a composite subjective norm score. Reliabilities for the two sets of items were high (normative beliefs: alpha=0.70, motivation to comply:

alpha=0.85, when missing values were recoded to the mid-point of the scale. Missing values occurred when respondents rated a particular referent 'not relevant to me').

Perceived behavioural control

Was measured by asking respondents whether, in eight different circumstances, they believed they would be more or less likely to speed (for example, 'Would you be more or less likely to drive down this road at 40mph if you were running late for an appointment?'). A corresponding eight items asked respondents how often they found themselves in such circumstances when driving.

These two sets of items, labelled control beliefs and control frequency, were summed to produce a composite perceived behavioural control. An alternative simpler measure of perceived behavioural control was also obtained, using two items, 'I would find it frustrating to stick to 30mph in this situation' and 'I would find it easy to stick to 30mph in this situation'.

These two measures of control were used because there appears, as yet, only limited consensus on how control should be operationalised within the TPB. Reliability was high for the control beliefs (alpha=0.88) but low for the control frequencies (alpha=0.31). Reliability for the alternative measure of perceived behavioural control was high (alpha=0.80).

Samples examine

Samples examine

Drivers’ decision to speed: A study inspired by the theory of planned behaviour

Source: Drivers’ decision to speed: A study inspired by the theory of planned behavior Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Volume 9, Issue 6, November 2006, Pages 427-433, Henriette Wallén Warner and Lars Åberg

This study was completed in Sweden, where between 1999 and 2002 to test drivers reactions to speeding. The study used an intelligent speed adoption device to inform drivers of speeding.

The device was installed in the car for a month with no warnings activated to measure current behaviour of drivers. When the drivers were in the range of a digital map they were logged and measured to see if they were speeding.

All of the respondents were surveyed to ascertain their attitudes to speeding etc.

The results of the surveys were measured using a polychoric correlation matrix. This is a method of analysis which looks at opinions and creates a correlation matrix based upon examining this correlation.

The results of the surveys were measured using a polychoric correlation matrix. This is a method

Measuring cognitive determinants of speeding: An application of the theory of planned behaviour

Source: Measuring cognitive determinants of speeding: An application of the theory of planned behaviour Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Helmut Paris and Stephan Van den Broucke

This is a study which was conducted in Belgium.

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