theory

The Transtheoretical Model

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Another theory that could be useful in engaging parents with behaviour change is the Transtheoretical Model. This theoretical model was initially developed, by James Prochaska and Carlo Diclemente in the late 1970s, to aid smoking cessation, and includes a number of constructs, aiming to move individuals away from a negative behaviour to a positive behaviour (e.g. from smoking to non-smoking). This model has borrowed constructs and ideas from a number of other theories and includes the following constructs; Stages of change (the stage at which a person is relating to behaviour change – please see below), Decisional Balance (pros and cons of behaviour), self-efficacy (the ability of someone to perceive that they have the skills to change a behaviour), and the processes of change (activities to support the movement between stages). The stages of change are each stage that an individual can move through, from pre-contemplation (not even considering enacting a different behaviour) through contemplation and preparation to action (acting out the new behaviour) and maintenance (maintaining the new behaviour). This construct is cyclical and allows for relapses into the old behaviour, where the individual would then join again at the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage, as well as moving forwards and backwards through stages.

The processes of change components are also important and are headlines for activities that can be undertaken to support behaviour change. In the table below are descriptions for each process of change component. How these are actually practised is up to the campaign. For instance consciousness raising could be realised through a direct mail or promotion to raise awareness, whereas counter-conditioning, could occur where messages and facts supporting the new behaviour and proving that the old behaviour is unhealthy are offered to target audiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from smoking cessation, TTM has been used for drinking, drug use, exercise, healthy eating, mammography screening, and sun protection, as well as in increasing walking amongst previously inactive groups. Any behaviour can be mapped against TTM. There are accusations of a lack of proof that the TTM is really effective, but like other models, by covering off all these areas, the campaigning work will have some value.

The Theory of Planned Behaviour

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As part of my research, I decided to look at theoretical models that could be used as part of campaigning work to engage parents. One obvious contender is the Theory of Planned Behaviour.

The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was developed by Icek Azjen in 1981, as an extension to the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), which was also developed by Azjen, with Martin Fishbein in the 1970s.  (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975; Azjen & Fishbein, 1980). The TRA developed from work looking at the affect of attitudes on behaviour, and the importance of intention to/to not enact a behaviour and consists of the constructs;  Attitude (the feeling someone has towards something) and subjective norm (perceived or actual social pressure to perform a behaviour). Attitude is affected by behavioural beliefs (what someone personally believes that they should do in relation to the behaviour) and subjective norm is affected by (what an individual believes others think should be done in relation to the behaviour). The TPB includes the additional construct of perceived behavioural control (PBC) (an individual’s control over being able to perform the behaviour), which is influenced by control beliefs (what someone believes relating to them being able to perform the behaviour). PBC has been linked to other constructs, such as self-efficacy (found in The Social Cognitive Theory), where an individual feels that they have control over a behaviour and can actually carry it out because they believe that they have the skills to do so. Attitude, subjective norm and PBC all have a direct influence on intention, with PBC also having an influence on behaviour (as without control over the behaviour it is not possible to enact).

To help illustrate the TPB model I have created a diagram with some phrases highlighting how each construct works within the model.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This theory has been used by numerous academics to study cognitive behaviours, such as car use, exercise and condom use. In some cases additional constructs, such as habit, have been added to strengthen the model’s predictive power. For campaign purposes, this model is useful as it’s constructs cover a lot of areas that are relevant and influencers on intention to carry out a behaviour. One area it is not as strong at, is considering affective influences, such as emotional feelings towards a behaviour. If a behaviour change (whether a campaign call to action or the actual behaviour itself) has significant emotional influence than there is a need to add constructs reflecting these into the model.

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