Simulating behaviour change interventions based on the theory of planned behaviour: Impacts on intention and action

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Abstract

The theory of planned behaviour (TPB; Ajzen, 1991) has been used extensively to predict social and health behaviours. However, a critical test of the TPB is whether interventions that increased scores on the theory's predictors would engender behaviour change. The present research deployed a novel technique in order to provide this test. Statistical simulations were conducted on data for 30 behaviours (N=211) that estimated the impact of interventions that generated maximum positive changes in attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control (PBC) on subsequent intentions and behaviour. Findings indicated that interventions that maximized TPB variables had a substantial impact on behavioural intentions. Although TPB maximization increased the proportion of the sample that performed respective behaviours by 28% compared with baseline, the behaviour of a substantial minority of the sample (26%) did not change. The research also identified several interactions among TPB variables in predicting simulated intention and behaviour scores and investigated the mediating role of intentions in predicting behaviour.

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