From Intentions to Actions: A Theory of Planned Behavior

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Abstract

There appears to be general agreement among social psychologists that most human behavior is goal-directed (e. g., Heider, 1958 ; Lewin, 1951). Being neither capricious nor frivolous, human social behavior can best be described as following along lines of more or less well-formulated plans. Before attending a concert, for example, a person may extend an invitation to a date, purchase tickets, change into proper attire, call a cab, collect the date, and proceed to the concert hall. Most, if not all, of these activities will have been designed in advance; their execution occurs as the plan unfolds. To be sure, a certain sequence of actions can become so habitual or routine that it is performed almost automatically, as in the case of driving from home to work or playing the piano. Highly developed skills of this kind typically no longer require conscious formulation of a behavioral plan. Nevertheless, at least in general outline, we are normally well aware of the actions required to attain a certain goal. Consider such a relatively routine behavior as typing a letter. When setting this activity as a goal, we anticipate the need to locate a typewriter, insert a sheet of paper, adjust the margins, formulate words and sentences, strike the appropriate keys, and so forth. Some parts of the plan are more routine, and require less conscious thought than others, but without an explicit or implicit plan to guide the required sequence of acts, no letter would get typed.