Are Beliefs and Attitudes a proxy for Behavior?

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Are Beliefs and Attitudes a proxy for Behavior?

I am studying nurses' attitudes and beliefs regarding open visitation in the adult ICU atmosphere. Several studies have measured nurses' beliefs and attitudes pre and post implementation of liberalized visitation policy. However, other studies show nurses' behavior is independent of policy. So, is there support that these researchers can imply that the nurses' behavior in fact changed if their attitudes changed? Or, in the broader context, is measuring attitudes and beliefs a substitute for measuring behavior?


Beliefs and Attitudes are a proxy for Behavior

Yes. the above theory of planned behavior is really all about the link between attitudes and behavior. It was proposed as an extension of the (previous) theory of reasoned action, also by Ajzen.
According to the Theory of Reasoned Action, if people evaluate the suggested behavior as positive (Attitude), and if they think their significant others wanted them to perform the behavior (Subjective Norm), this results in a higher intention (motivation) and they are more likely to do so. A high correlation (!) of attitudes and subjective norms to behavioral intention, and subsequently to behavior has been confirmed in many studies.
But a counter argument against the high relationship between behavioral intention and actual behavior was proposed as results of some studies show that behavioral intention not always (!) leads to actual behavior because of circumstantial limitations. Behavioral intention cannot be the exclusive determinant of behavior when an individual’s control over the behavior is incomplete. For this situation, Ajzen introduced the Theory of Planned Behavior by adding a new component, “Perceived Behavioral Control”, an individual's perceived ease or difficulty of performing the particular behavior.

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

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