Information [obtained from environmental and intrapersonal sources] is a prime influencer which can result in either avocation or avoidance of a behaviour (Ogden, 2000). For example, one may want healthy lungs, but lack information about cancer, and lack the motivation to stop smoking. Consequently, avoidant behaviour will not result. Fazio (1990) proposed that individuals, who are unable to make dependable decisions about attitude related behaviour, rely on ‘highly accessible attitudes’ that automatically guide behaviour. The MODE model (Fazio, 1990) supposes that in situations where motivations are absent, behaviour may be involuntarily facilitated by attitude.
However, if an attitude is inadequately rooted, this automatic component may not precede (Hauston & Stoebe, 1996). Roger and Bandura’s (1980) Procession Motivation Theory asserts that severity, susceptibility, response effectiveness and self-efficacy components are necessary for a stable behaviour intention to follow. Similarly, the Theory of Self-Regulation considers the motivational variable desire as the precursor to behaviour intention and subsequent behaviour, by controlling volition (Bagozzi, 1992). The Ipsative Theory (Frey, 1988) further advocates, that non-action may transpire if motivation, and opportunities are underprovided.
Past Experiences (PE) are considered to arbitrate associations between attitudes, intentions and subsequent behaviour, due to the stability of opportunities and context (Aarts, Verplanken and Knippenberg, 1998). However, Fazio and Zanna, (1981) showed that only when attitudes are acquired through direct experience are subsequent behaviours likely. The TPB, suggests that as direct experience increases (if attitudes are measured by affective components) behaviour correspondence will decrease (Hauston and Stroebe, 1996).
However, the frequency and recency of past behaviours are thought to affect intention differently (Bagozzi, 1992). For example, you may have exercised regularly last year, but due to injury have not exercised recently. Fishbein’s Expectancy-Value Model proposed fewer learned experiences would produce a weaker attitude-behaviour relationship (Hogg and Vaughan, 1998). However, PE cannot be solely responsible for this relationship and further factors should be considered.
Alternative choices are considered to aid attitude-behaviour correspondence, suggesting that this is reduced if various alternatives are not available. However, the relationship is also dependent on normative beliefs and other factors (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1970). Decision theories identify the role of ‘Subjective Expected Utilities’ (SEU) in the antecedents of behaviour. Dulany’s (1967) Theory of Prepositional Control demonstrates the relevance of behavioural intention in the arbitration of explicit behaviour. Bentler and Speckart (1979) regard behaviour as resulting directly from attitudes, which are dependent upon the perceived amount of effort involved. Although SEU’s alone may not be adequate determinants of behaviour, it is necessary to consider normative influences.
Normative beliefs consist of individual perceptions of what should be done and what society would want (Thomas, 1971). In addition to socially perceived pressure, moral obligations need noting. Though direct pressure may be absent in group situations, individuals may present behaviours that do not correspond to their moral attitudes. This implies therefore, that individuals use social comparative contexts to adjust their behaviours accordingly (Hogg and Vaughan, 1998). However, if an imbalance in cognitive consistency occurs, individuals experience dissonance, and may subsequently change their attitude in accordance with the situation (Vaughan 1998). For example, one may be reluctant to eat chocolate (person attitude), but if it is a foreign make (environment factor) and one’s friend (other person) is eating it, one may succumb.
The ‘Balance Theory’ suggests, that though an attitude is held, if the relationship between the three components is unbalanced, a contradictory behaviour may be elicited (Heider, 1958). Dulany’s Theory also encompasses the role of situational factors, normative variables and motivations as a precursor to behaviour (Thomas, 1971). Other theorists have also recognised, the social determinant implications (i.e. self-concept, moral norms, roles), which are incorporated into the Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour (Triandis, 1967; 1977). However, the most recognised theory for attitude-behaviour relationship is that of Reasoned Action which explains the importance of social norms and how individuals view them in addition to behaviour intention and behaviour control (Leon, Perugini and Ercolani, 1999). Bentler and Speckart’s (1979) model of Attitude Behaviour Relation, also suggests, correlations between attitude and behaviour are equally influenced by attitudes, subjective norms, and previous behaviour.
This essay has proposed several factors that may interfere with the attitude-behaviour relationship, including attitude formation (cognitive and effective components), internal (knowledge, commitment, morals) and external (alternatives choices, information) influences. These have been discussed as having been identified in one or several models including; the TPB and the Decision theory.
Through desire, attitudes are shown to be connected to intentions, which in turn are good predictors of behaviour. Thus, there is little direct association between attitude and behaviour. However, four important components are proposed to interfere with the behaviour-attitude relationship; past behaviour, motivation (desire), normative beliefs, and locus of control. Though the MODE model, Expectancy value model, and TPB incorporate these factors individually, no specific model predominantly identifies all four. It is therefore; suggested further investigation needs to be implemented to test the variables.
Aarts H., Verplanken B., and Knippenberg A. (1998) predicting behaviour from actions in the past: Repeated decision making or a matter of habit? Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 28 (15), 1355-1374
Ajzen., I. and Fishbein., M. (1969). The prediction of behavioural intentions in a choice situation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 5, 400-416 Ajzen., I. and Fishbein., M. (1970). The prediction of behaviour from attitudinal and normative variables. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 6, 466-487