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Updated December 6, 2020

Theory of Planned Behavior

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Theory of Planned Behavior essay
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The theory of planned behavior was proposed by Icek Ajzen in 1985 through his article ‘From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior.’ Theory of planned behavior (TPB) has gone through three stages of development.

The formation and revision period of the theory in the 1980s was mainly the presentation and preliminary examination of the basic theoretical modules. The theory of planning behavior was based on the evolution and improvement of Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). It is a theory put forward by Martin Fishbein and Ajzen in 1980. The theory of reasoned action was in turn grounded in various theories of attitude such as learning theories, expectancy-value theories, consistency theories (such as Heider’s balance theory, Osgood and Tannenbaum’s congruity theory, and Festinger’s dissonance theory) and attribution theory.

Theory of reasoned action holds that individuals’ specific behaviors are influenced by their behavioral intentions, and behavioral intentions depend on the behavior and subjective norms of the actors. It is assumed that the individual’s behavior is derived from complete voluntary control, which ignores the individual’s inner decision (may be moral, ethical, control, etc). Theory of Reasoned Action believes that behavioral intention is the direct factor determining actual behavior, it is subject to the influence of behavioral attitudes and subjective norms.

Since TRA assumes that individual behavior is controlled by the will, which severely restricts the wide application of theory and some studies shown that behavioral intention does not always lead to actual behavior. Ajzen added perceptual behavior control (PBC) based on the Theory of Reasoned Action in 1985 to increase the scope of the theory. PBC originates from self-efficacy theory (SET). Self-efficacy was proposed by Bandura in 1977, which came from social cognitive theory. In 1988, Ajzen added the third element: Perceived behavioral control, and proposed the theory of planned behavior.

The 1990s is a perfect period of theory, mainly focusing on the further definition of basic variables, the exploration of new mediator variables and regulatory variables, and the revision of measurement methods. The first decade of this century is the comprehensive development stage of theory. The applicability of theory of planned behavior in different fields, different countries and different contexts was confirmed, and the interdisciplinary expansion of the theory was completed (Zhang Jin, Zheng Quanquan, 2012).

In 1991, Ajzen published the book ‘The Theory of Planned Behavior’, which marked the maturity of the theory of planned behavior. Ajzen added behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs in the front of attitude, subjective norms, and perceptual behavior control to form the current theory of planned behavior model.

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