Current Psychology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 264–280 | Cite as

Implications of goal theories for the theories of reasoned action and planned behaviour

  • Charles Abraham
  • Paschal Sheeran


This paper argues that the predictive validity of the theories of reasoned action and planned behaviour could be enhanced by considering key ideas from goal theories. In particular, goal theories highlight the importance of: (a) construing action as a process of behavioural selection designed to achieve actors’ goals, (b) assessing the extent to which people have planned how to perform action sequences implied by their goals (c) investigating goal conflict in order to understand intention-behaviour discrepancies (d) examining contextual variations in goal salience to account for the dynamics of choice, (e) using intention stability to index the prioritization of goals, and (f) analyzing the content of the goals underlying attitudes and intentions. Suggestions are made about self-report measures and computations that would permit greater use of these ideas in future research.


Behavioural Intention Goal Achievement Implementation Intention Current Psychology Perceive Behavioural Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2000). Habits as knowledge structure: automaticity in goal-directed behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 53–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abraham, C., & Sheeran, P. (2003). Acting on intentions: The role of anticipated regret. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 495–511.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abraham, C., Sheeran, P., & Johnson, M. (1998) From health beliefs to self-regulation: Theoretical advances in the psychology of action control. Psychology and Health, 13, 569–592.Google Scholar
  4. Abraham, C., Sheeran, P., Norman, P., Conner, M., de Vries, N., & Otten, W. (1999) When good intentions are not enough: Modeling post-intention cognitive correlates of condom use. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 2591–2612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmann (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 11–39). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  6. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ajzen, I. (1998). Models of human social behavior and their application to heath psychology. Psychology and Health, 13, 735–740.Google Scholar
  8. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1969). The prediction of behavioral intentions in a choice situation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 5, 400–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980) Understanding Attitudes and predicting social behavior, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Allport, G., W. (1947). Scientific models and human morals. Psychological Review, 54, 182–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 471–499.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Austin, J., T., Vancouver, & J. B. (1996). Goal constructs in psychology: Structure, process, and content. Psychological Review, 120, 338–375.Google Scholar
  13. Bagozzi, R. P. (1992). The self-regulation of attitudes, intentions and behavior. Social Psychology Quarterly, 55, 178–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bagozzi, R. P, & Edwards, E. A. (1998). Goal setting and goal pursuit in the regulation of body weight. Psychology and Health, 13, 593–621.Google Scholar
  15. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Towards a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy; The exercise of control, New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  17. Belloc, N. B., & Breslow, L. (1972). Relationship of physical health status and health practices. Preventive Medicine, 7, 409–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1982). Control theory: a useful conceptual framework for personality-social, clinical and health psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 111–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self-regulation of behavior. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Biddle, S. J. H., & Meek, G. A. (1997). A self-determination theory approach to the study of intentions and the intention-behaviour relationship in children's physical activity. British Journal of Health Psychology, 2, 343–360.Google Scholar
  21. Conner, M., & Armitage, C. J. (1998). Extending the theory of planned behavior: A review and avenues for further research. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 1429–1464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Conner, M., Sheeran, P., Norman, P. Armitage, & C. J. (2001). Temporal stability as a moderator of relationships in the theory of planned behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 469–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cooke, R. & Sheeran, P. (2001). Predictive validity of properties of attitudes and intentions: A meta-analysis. Joint European Health Psychology Society and BPS Division of Health Psychology Conference. University of St Andrews.Google Scholar
  24. Davidson, A. R., & Morrison, D. M. (1983). Predicting contraceptive behavior from attitudes: A comparison of within—versus between-subjects procedures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 997–1009.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. London: Plenum.Google Scholar
  26. Dijksterhuis, A., & Bargh, J. A. (2001). The preception-behavior expressway: Automatic effects of social perception on social behavior. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 33, pp. 1–40). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Dodge, K. A., Asher, S. R., & Pankhurst, J. T. (1989). Social life as a goal-coordination task. In C. Ames & R. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education: Goals and cognitions (Vol. 3, pp. 107–135). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Eagly, A. H., Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  29. Edwards, J. R. (1994). The study of congruence in organizational behavior research: Critique and proposed alternative. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 58, 51–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fishbein, M. (1980). A theory of reasoned action: Some applications and implications. In H. Howe & M. Page (eds.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 27, pp. 65–116). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  31. Fishbein, M & Ajzen, I. (1975) Belief, attitude, intention and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  32. Fishbein, M., Ajzen, I., & Hinkle, (1980). Predicting and understanding women's occupational orientations: Factors underlying choice intentions. In I. Ajzen & M. Fishbein Understanding attitudes and predicting behavior (pp 113–129). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  33. Godin, G., & Kok, G. (1996). The theory of planned behavior: A review of its applications to healthrelated behaviors. American Journal of Health Promotion, 11, 97–98.Google Scholar
  34. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gollwitzer, P. M., & Moskowitz, G. B. (1996). Goal effects on action and cognition: In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  36. Gollwitzer, P. M., & Schaal, B. (1998). Metacognition in action: The importance of implementation intentions: Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2, 124–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Griffin, D., Murray, S., & Gonzlez, R. (1999). Difference score correlations in relationship research: A conceptual primer. Personal Relationships, 6, 505–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hyland, M. E. (1988). Motivational control theory: an integrative framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 642–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jones, F., Abraham, C., Harris, P., Schulz, J., & Chrispin, C. (2001). From knowledge to action regulation: Modelling the cognitive prerequisites of sunscreen use in Australian and UK samples. Psychology and Health, 16, 191–206.Google Scholar
  40. Karoly, P. (1998). Expanding the conceptual range of health self-regulation research: a commentary. Psychology and Health, 13, 741–746.Google Scholar
  41. Kuhl, J. (1985). From cognition to behavior: Perspectives for future research on action control. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 267–276). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  42. Kuhl, J. (1992). A theory of self regulation: action versus state orientation, self-discrimination and some applications. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 41, 97–129.Google Scholar
  43. Locke, E. A., Shaw, K. N., Saari, L. M., Latham, G. P. Goal setting and task performance: 1969-1980. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 125-152.Google Scholar
  44. Miller, G., A., Galanter, E., Pribram, & K. H. (1960) Plans and the structure of behavior. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  45. Milne, S. E., Orbell, S., & Sheeran, P. (in press). Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions. British Journal of Health Psychology. Google Scholar
  46. Orbell, S., Hodgkins, S., & Sheeran, P. (1997). Implementation intentions and the theory of planned behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 953–962.Google Scholar
  47. Powers, M. T. (1973). Behavior: The control of perception. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  48. Ryan, R. M., & Connell, J. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 749–761.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ryan, R. M., Sheldon, K. M., Kasser, T., & Deci, E. L. (1996). All goals are not created equal: An organismic perspective on the nature of goals and their regulation. In P. M. Gollwitzer & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), The psychology of action (pp. 7–26). London: Guilford.Google Scholar
  50. Sheeran, P. (2001). Effects of achievement and affiliation primes on intentions to study and socialise [Unpublished raw data], University of Sheffield, UK.Google Scholar
  51. Sheeran, P. (2002). Intention-behaviour relations: A conceptual and empirical review. European Review of Social Psychology, 12, 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sheeran, P., & Abraham, C. (2003). The Importance of Temporal Stability of Intention Relative to Other Moderators of the Intention-Behaviour Relationship. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 205–215.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sheeran, P., Norman, P. & Orbell, S. (1999). Evidence that intentions based on attitudes better predict behaviour than intentions based on subjective norms. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 403–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sheeran, P., & Orbell, S. (1998). Do intentions predict condom use? Meta-analysis and examination of six moderator variables. British Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 231–250.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sheeran, P., Orbell, S., & Trafimow, D. (1999). Does the temporal stability of behavioural intentions moderate intention-behavior and past behavior-future behavior relations? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 721–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sheeran, P., & Taylor, S. (1999). Predicting intentions to use condoms: Meta-analysis and comparison of the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 1624–1675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sheeran, P., & Trafimow, D. (2001). Towards an integration of goal theories and attitude behavior models (manuscript under review).Google Scholar
  58. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliott, A. J. (1998). Not all personal goals are personal: Comparing autonomous and controlled reasons for goals as predictors of effort and attainment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 915–927.Google Scholar
  59. Sheppard, B. H., Hartwick, J., & Warshaw, P. R. (1988). The theory of reasoned action: a meta-analysis of past research with recommendations for modifications and future research. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 325–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sperber, B. M., Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1980). Predicting and understanding women's occupational orientations: Factors underlying choice intentions. In I. Ajzen & M. Fishbein Understanding attitudes and predicting behavior (pp 113–129). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  61. Trafimow, D., & Finlay, K. A. (1996). The importance of subjective norms for a minority of people: Between-subjects and within-subjects analyses. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 820–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tubbs, M. E. (1986). Goal setting: A meta-analytic examination of the empirical data. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 474–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vallacher, R. R., & Wegner, D. M. (1985). A theory of action identification. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  64. Vallacher, R. R., & Wegner, D. M. (1987). What do people think they are doing? Action identification and human behavior. Psychological Review, 94, 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. van der Pligt, J., de Vries, N. K., Manstead, A. S. R., & van Harreveld, F. (2000). The importance of being selective: Weighing the role of attribute importance in attitudinal judgment. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 32, pp. 135–200). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  66. Verplanken, B., & Aarts, H. (1999). Habit, attitude, and planned behaviour: Is habit an empty construct or an interesting case of automaticity? In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European review of social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 101–134). Chicester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  67. Wight, D. (1992). Impediments to safer heterosexual sex: A review of research with young people. AIDS Care, 4, 11–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Williams, G. C., Grow, V. M., Freedman, Z. R., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E.L. (1996). Motivational predictors of weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 115–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Abraham
    • 1
  • Paschal Sheeran
    • 2
  1. 1.University of SussexUK
  2. 2.University of SheffieldUK

Personalised recommendations