Elicitation studies and the theory of planned behavior: a systematic review of exercise beliefs

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Background:Elicitation studies are recommended when using the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to establish the cognitive foundation of a population’s salient exercise beliefs. The TPB is frequently used to explain exercise intention and behavior, and its predictive utility is well-established. Limited research, however, has examined people’s salient behavioral, normative, and control beliefs for exercise—and the relative contribution of these beliefs for explaining attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. Thus, to extend the explanatory utility of the TPB, a review of exercise elicitation studies is warranted.Purpose:To review TPB and exercise studies that conducted an elicitation study.Methods:A comprehensive literature search yielded 47 TPB studies that had conducted an elicitation study, spanning 22 yr (range: 1975–2002; 59.6% from the 1990s).Results and conclusions:We found that: (a) the most salient behavioral, normative, and control beliefs were that exercise improves physical/psychological health, family members have the strongest normative influence on exercise, and physical limitations obstruct exercise, respectively; (b) the effect size for behavioral beliefs-attitude, normative beliefs-subjective norm, and control beliefs-perceived behavioral control were large; (c) the beliefs explained between 34% and 56% of the variance in attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control; and (d) insufficient information was reported for the elicitation studies’ methods. The study findings illustrate the importance of conducting elicitation studies as a mechanism for understanding exercise behavior. Future researchers are encouraged to conduct elicitation studies, and to report more detailed information regarding their methods to aid in replication and interpretation.

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