The theory of planned behavior is known to be one of the most popular theories identified in predicting and explaining human behaviors. The original journal article written by Icek Ajzen was published in 1991 as an extension of the theory of reasoned action. The theory of planned behavior distinguishes between three types of beliefs, and within those beliefs lays six constructs that collectively represent an individual’s actual control over their behavior (Lamorte, 2016). The three beliefs proposed by Ajzen are behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs. The six constructs within the three beliefs are: attitude, behavioral intention, subjective norms, social norms, perceived power, and perceived behavioral control (Lamorte, 2016). These three beliefs according to Ajzen, are what determine intentions and behavior. The theory also proposes that behavioral intention is the most significant predictor of human behavior.
In regard to behavioral beliefs, these beliefs are assumed to influence the construct of attitudes and behavior intention toward behaviors (Ajzen, 1991). In other words, what an individual believes about a behavior has an impact on the attitude toward that behavior, and that impact can influence behavior intentions. For instance, if an individual has a negative belief about a behavior, then their attitude toward that behavior will also be negative, and vice versa. Having a negative behavior and attitude in regards to a behavior will significantly impact the behavior intentions.
In regard to normative beliefs, these beliefs constitute the underlying determinants of the construct of social and subjective norms (Ajzen, 1991). In other words, normative beliefs are concerned with the likelihood that important referent individuals will approve or disapprove the behavior (Ajzen, 1991). For instance if an important referent individual disapproves a behavior, the subject may also disapprove of the behavior, and vice versa.
Control beliefs provide the basis for the construct of perceived behavioral control and perceived power (Ajzen, 1991). In other words, control beliefs are the basis of how hard or easy (the perception of behavior) is in relation to the requisite resources and opportunities (Ajzen, 1991). Control beliefs also take into account past experience with the behavior as well as second-hand information in reference to the behavior (Ajzen, 1991). For instance, if an individual perceives to be powerless in reference to a behavior, or believes that the behavior is hard to accomplish due to past experiences, or an acquaintance had difficulty in performing the behavior, the likelihood of performing that behavior is minimal, and vice versa.
The key component of the theory of planned behavior is intent (Lamorte, 2016). “Intentions are assumed to capture the motivational factors that influence a behavior (Ajzen, 1991). Ajzen (1991) suggests that the stronger the intention to engage in a behavior, the more the likelihood of its performance. In other words, the stronger the motivational factors that influence a behavior, the stronger the intentions. Ajzen (1991) also suggests that as a general rule, the more favorable the attitude and subjective norm toward a behavior, and the greater the perceived behavioral control, the stronger an individual’s intention to perform the beha