Blog of Sara Jakša

Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to Classify Different Ways of Personal Development

I am currently using the theory of reasoned action as one of the theoretical frameworks for my master thesis. Since I am currently reading quite a lot of articles about the theory of reasoned action and its extended version of theory of planned behavior, it made me start to think about different applications to this. One of the is, that a lot of ways of personal development can be classified in this model.

Model of Theory of Planned Behavior

The model is relatively simple. We can reach goals, by doing different behaviors and this models studies why people preform different behaviors. There are two things that can affect, which behaviors will people preform. The first one is intention. Which means, the stronger the intention, the more likely a person will preform the behavior. The second one is the control. So, the easier it is to do something, the more likely the person will do it.

But the control can also affect the intention, and so can the attitude, which is basically just the evaluation of the behavior and the social norms. So more positively the behavior is seen and the more desirable are the consequences of the behavior, the more likely the person will do a behavior. The easier it appears, the more likely the person will do it. Also, the higher the pressure from other people, the more likely will the person do it.

So, there are five points (parts of the theory), which can be used to change the behavior. While it is the most important part, simply using the will-power alone on forcing the behavior is generally not recommended, at least not without using any of the other four points. But I guess, for better save than sorry, it is best to simply attack all of them.

The first one is using intentions. This is where the goal setting comes in. And making planes. And writing down the consequences of taking an action or not taking an action. Deciding to do something. Writing it down. Everything that can make the intention to do something stronger can be included here.

The second one is the (behavioral) control. This is the one that I like the most. Here they would be things that make the desirable actions easier and undesirable actions harder. This would be freezing the credit cards for people in debt, getting the sweets away for people that are on the diet or blocking the time-wasting sites from my computer. Even putting the jogging shoes next to the bed, so one is reminded to jog in the morning would go in this category.

The third one is social norms. Here there are things like accountability partners, or announcing to the world, what you are doing or simply making sure that the end result will also impact other people. Or even just changing the social group one interacts in. As somebody relatively low on the extroversion and agreeableness, it is my least favorite part of doing it.

The forth one is attitude. Here are things like affirmations, journaling or anything else, that can provide different information or emotions to doing something. I guess even neural-linguistic-programming would be included here. Even just reading a lot of books about something can bring the change in this part.

I just found it funny, that a model that exist for decades can sum most of the personal development tactics so well.