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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Applying the model of Goal-Directed Behavior, including descriptive norms, to physical activity intentions: A contribution to improving the Theory of Planned Behavior

Author
item ESPOSITO, GABRIELE - European Commission-Joint Research Centre (JRC)
item VAN BAVEL, RENE - European Commission-Joint Research Centre (JRC)
item BARANOWSKI, TOM - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item DUCH-BROWN, NESTOR - European Commission-Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Submitted to: Psychological Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/30/2016
Publication Date: 5/26/2016
Citation: Esposito, G., Van Bavel, R., Baranowski, T., Duch-Brown, N. 2016. Applying the model of Goal-Directed Behavior, including descriptive norms, to physical activity intentions: A contribution to improving the Theory of Planned Behavior. Psychological Reports. doi: 10.1177/0033294116649576.

Interpretive Summary: Levels of physical activity (PA) are low among young adults from Eastern Europe. Having a model of psychosocial variables that maximally predicts PA in these groups should lead to more precisely tailored and effective interventions. This study compared the fit of alternative models for predicting PA intentions among east European young adults. The relatively recent model of Goal Directed Behavior, including descriptive norms, was the most highly predictive and best fit model. Interventions to increase PA among young adults from Eastern Europe based on these findings should target the most predictive model variables, including attitudes, descriptive norms, perceived behavioral control and positive anticipated emotions to PA.

Technical Abstract: The theory of planned behavior (TPB) has received its fair share of criticism lately, including calls for it to retire. We contributed to improving the theory by testing extensions such as the model of goal-directed behavior (MGDB, which adds desire and anticipated positive and negative emotions) applied to physical activity (PA) intention. We conducted a test on the inclusion of a descriptive norms (DN) construct as an addition to the subjective norms construct, also applied to PA, resulting in two additional models: TPB including descriptive norms (TPB + DN) and MGDB including descriptive norms (MGDB + DN). The study is based on an online survey of 400 young adult internet users, previously enrolled in a subject pool. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) showed that TPB and TPB + DN were not fit for purpose, while MGDB and MGDB + DN were. Structural equation modelling (SEM) conducted on MGDB and MGDB + DN showed that the inclusion of descriptive norms took over the significance of injunctive norms, and increased the model's account of total variance in intention to be physically active.