The Role of Irrationality (Affect and Emotions) in Planned Behavior

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

The Role of Irrationality (Affect and Emotions) in Planned Behavior

A frequently mentioned argument against the TPB is that the theory does not take into account sufficiently enough the cognitive and affective processes that often result in biased human evaluations and behaviour. It is concerned primarily with behaviors that are steered by conscious self-regulated activities. In other words TPB is said to be too rational.
So, the TPB tends to neglect some biasing variables that certainly affect behaviour and intentions. The most important factors mentioned are affect and emotions. These two factors can indirectly influence intentions and behaviour by affecting important beliefs in a given situation, but also they can affect the strength and evaluations of these beliefs. There are two ways in which these factors are actually included in the TPB:

1. They can be background variables affecting behavioural assumptions, but also normative and control beliefs. For example, being in a negative mood will have a different effect on beliefs and evaluations. For example, an event will be evaluated as more favourably by a person in a positive mood compared to a negative-minded person.
2. Furthermore, affective states are able to help selecting the behavioural, normative and control beliefs that are immediately accessible in memory. An example is a free-response elicitation session, about smoking. This session showed that the negative beliefs about the effects of smoking were more often emitted by participants in a negative state of mind compared to participants in a positive mood state.

Source: Ajzen, I. (2011). “The Theory of Planned Behaviour: Reactions and Reflections. “Psychology & Health, 26:9, 1113-1127.

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