How would one complete the following assignment? Select one article on each of the following theories: theory of reasoned action, health belief model, theory of planned behavior, and...

How would one complete the following assignment?

  • Select one article on each of the following theories: theory of reasoned action, health belief model, theory of planned behavior, and trans-theoretical stages of change, or select one article that discusses all of the theories.

  • Summarize how each theory is applied to practice.

  • Explain two strengths of each theory.

  • Explain at least two limitations of each of the theories.

  • Select one theory you would like to use in the development of your public health campaign and justify your selection.

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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To complete your assignment, you'll first want to gain a thorough understanding of each of the theories named: theory of reasoned action, health belief model, theory of planned behavior, and trans-theoretical stages of change. You will then want to use your school library databases to access peer-reviewed journal articles in which scholars have published findings using each theory to conduct new behavioral research or studies in which scholars examine the reliability of the theory through research. The directions say that you also have the option of choosing "one article that discusses all three theories," but fair warning, it will probably be much harder to find one article that applies all four theories. The reason is because what you are looking for is an article detailing a research study using or concerning the theory so that you can see exactly how behavior scientists apply the theory in the real world and in real research. Your best bet will probably be to find a separate peer-reviewed scholarly article in your school library's databases on each of the four theories, making a total of four separate articles. Use the theory in question as a search term or even add the word "study," such as "study on theory of reasoned action." If you still have trouble yielding search results, ask your school librarian for advice. As we are limited in space, let's go over one theory and exactly what kind of article you are looking for with respect to that theory. Let's look at the theory of reasoned action (TRA) as an example.

Your first step will be to gain a thorough understanding of what the theory of reasoned action is. While any scholarly article you find conducting research on TRA may explain TRA, it won't do it in an easy-to-understand manner. So, you first want to use your textbook or a short article found on a website to understand the theory of reasoned action. TRA was a behavioral theory and model developed by Icek Ajzen and Martin Fishbein in 1980. The theory and model argues that a person's intention to act is dependent on the person's attitude about the behavior and the subjective norms, or more specifically, "one's attitude toward a behavior can lead to an intention to act" (Michigan State University, "The Theory of Reasoned Action"). The model can be expressed in the equation BI=A+SN ("Theory of Reasoned Action").

A person's attitude toward a behavior can be defined as a belief that doing a certain action will result in a particular end result. If a person recognizes that he/she can benefit from the end result, then the person may either intend to do the action or actually do the action (Michigan State University). The subjective norm will also influence a person's attitude toward the behavior. Simply put, the subjective norm can be understood as peer pressure. The subjective norm essentially refers to what a person sees others as wanting the person to do. Others around a person that can influence the subjective norm can include "friends or a peer group, family, co-workers, church congregation members, community leaders and even celebrities" (Michigan State). Michigan State University gives us the example of Ted Nugent, who is both a rock star and an advocate for "responsible hunting"; therefore, Ted Nugent can easily set a subjective norm that will influence others to also practice "responsible hunting" techniques (Michigan State). Laws and rules can also be viewed as setting a subjective norm and will also influence one's attitude toward a behavior (Michigan State).

Now that you understand the theory, you next want to find a study that applies or examines the theory when conducting a study on behavior. You will probably find more articles in your databases, but one example is the article "Ajzen and Fishbein's Theory of Reasoned Action as Applied to Moral Behavior: A Confirmatory Analysis" by authors Robert J. Vallerand, Paul Dashaies, Jean-Pierre Cuerrier, Luc G. Pelletier, and Claude Mongeau. In this study, authors Vallerand et al. apply TRA in order to examine the moral behavior of athletes. In particular, the scholars wanted to see how well the model could predict moral behavior, such as cheating. Their test subjects included 1,056 male and female athletes, ages 10 to 18 years. The scholars felt that they were able to provide a modified version of the TRA model that significantly improved Ajzen and Fishbein's original model.

Once you've chosen your article, you're next instructed to "summarize how each theory is applied to practice." In order to do that, you want to look at exactly how the authors of the article used the theory in their own investigation. Ajzen and Fishbein derived their theory based off of behavioral observation and derived the model in order to predict behavior; what these particular scholars wanted to know is specifically how well the model can predict moral behavior, so predicting moral behavior would be one way in which the theory is applied to practice. You would then use your article to summarize exactly how they used the theory to predict moral behavior. To conduct their experiment to see how well the TRA model will predict moral behavior, they had their sampling of athletes answer questionnaires in which the athletes were asked to envision themselves in two hypothetical situations in which they would be required to make either a moral or non-moral decision about action to take. The scholars then used equations to analyze the data and determine how well the model predicts moral behavior. They specifically found that, while Fishbein and Ajzen's original model could predict some of the moral behavior, a new model analyzing the "causal path from normative beliefs to attitudes," meaning the causes behind viewing something as a subjective norm and the attitude towards that subjective norm, was also essential in creating a model that could more accurately predict moral behavior (p. 101). A more specific description of the method the scholars used in the study as well as their procedures and results can be found starting on page 101 under the headings "Method" and "Data Analysis." You'll want to read these sections over, and depending on how long your summary of how the theory can be applied needs to be, you'll want to use these sections to give a more detailed summary. Since these scholars have also proposed their own modification to the TRA model, you will also be able to use this article or one like it to answer the questions, "Explain two strengths of [this particular theory]" and "Explain at least two limitations of [this particular theory]." Once you've gained a thorough understanding of all of the theories named and found articles showing how they can be applied in current behavior studies, you will then be able complete the last step of your assignment, which is to choose one theory you want to use in developing "your public health campaign."


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