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Responding to Activism: An Experimental Analysis of Public Relations Strategy Influence on Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behavioral Intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621) 7 Attitude toward behavior is simply an individual’s positive or negative evaluation of performing the behavior. It refers to the person’s summary judgment that performing the behavior is favorable or unfavorable (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). A person’s attitude about a behavior is a function of his or her salient beliefs about performing the behavior, including the likely consequences of the behavior and the evaluation of those consequences (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Subjective norm refers to an individual’s perceptions of the social pressures related to the performance of a behavior. Specifically, subjective norm is a function of an individual’s perception that particular referents think the behavior should or should not be performed and the person’s motivation to comply with these referents (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Generally, people will perform behaviors that they find favorable and that are popular with others and will refrain from behaviors that they regard as unfavorable and that are unpopular with others (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Prior to the development of the theory of reasoned action, most attitude research measured an individual’s favorable or unfavorable judgment or feeling toward an object, person, group or event, and then predicted the person’s behavior related to the measured object. Attitudes toward the specific behavior were not measured (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). As a result, weak relationships were found between attitude and behavior. The theory of reasoned action, however, is based on a person’s attitude toward a specific act or behavior, rather than their attitude toward an object. Studies testing the theory have provided support for its ability to account for intentions and behavior in diverse areas, including birth control (Crawfold & Boyer, 1985), voting (Ajzen, Timko, & White, 1982), and use of natural resources (Fulton et al., 1996; Fishbein & Manfredo, 1992). In reviews of the substantial research on the theory, Fishbein and Ajzen found that intentions to engage in volitional acts were usually well predicted by the combination of attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm. Sheppard, Hartwick, and Warshaw (1988) conducted a meta-analysis of 87 estimates of the predictability of intention and behavior and reported a mean R of .66 for the prediction of intention from attitude and subjective norm. For the relation between intention and behavior, they reported a mean r of .53. Similarly, Van den Putte’s (1991) meta-analysis of 113 studies indicated a mean R of .68 for predicting intention from attitude and subjective norm and a mean r of .62 for predicting behavior from intention. Van den Putte also reported mean correlations of .53 for the relation between attitudes and behavioral beliefs and .53 for the relation between subjective norms and normative beliefs. In addition, he found that the relation between intention and attitude was stronger than the relation between intention and subjective norm. Proponents of the theory of reasoned action claim it provides a complete theory of voluntary behavior in the sense that no other variables influence behavior, except through their impact on beliefs (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Thus, no separate measures are needed for external variables. According to Fishbein &

Authors: Page, Kelly.
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Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621)
7
Attitude toward behavior is simply an individual’s positive or negative evaluation of performing the
behavior. It refers to the person’s summary judgment that performing the behavior is favorable or
unfavorable (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). A person’s attitude about a behavior is a
function of his or her salient beliefs about performing the behavior, including the likely consequences of
the behavior and the evaluation of those consequences (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).
Subjective norm refers to an individual’s perceptions of the social pressures related to the
performance of a behavior. Specifically, subjective norm is a function of an individual’s perception that
particular referents think the behavior should or should not be performed and the person’s motivation to
comply with these referents (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Generally, people will perform behaviors that they
find favorable and that are popular with others and will refrain from behaviors that they regard as
unfavorable and that are unpopular with others (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).
Prior to the development of the theory of reasoned action, most attitude research measured an
individual’s favorable or unfavorable judgment or feeling toward an object, person, group or event, and
then predicted the person’s behavior related to the measured object. Attitudes toward the specific
behavior were not measured (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). As a result, weak
relationships were found between attitude and behavior. The theory of reasoned action, however, is based
on a person’s attitude toward a specific act or behavior, rather than their attitude toward an object.
Studies testing the theory have provided support for its ability to account for intentions and behavior
in diverse areas, including birth control (Crawfold & Boyer, 1985), voting (Ajzen, Timko, & White,
1982), and use of natural resources (Fulton et al., 1996; Fishbein & Manfredo, 1992). In reviews of the
substantial research on the theory, Fishbein and Ajzen found that intentions to engage in volitional acts
were usually well predicted by the combination of attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm.
Sheppard, Hartwick, and Warshaw (1988) conducted a meta-analysis of 87 estimates of the predictability
of intention and behavior and reported a mean R of .66 for the prediction of intention from attitude and
subjective norm. For the relation between intention and behavior, they reported a mean r of .53. Similarly,
Van den Putte’s (1991) meta-analysis of 113 studies indicated a mean R of .68 for predicting intention
from attitude and subjective norm and a mean r of .62 for predicting behavior from intention. Van den
Putte also reported mean correlations of .53 for the relation between attitudes and behavioral beliefs and
.53 for the relation between subjective norms and normative beliefs. In addition, he found that the relation
between intention and attitude was stronger than the relation between intention and subjective norm.
Proponents of the theory of reasoned action claim it provides a complete theory of voluntary behavior
in the sense that no other variables influence behavior, except through their impact on beliefs (Eagly &
Chaiken, 1993). Thus, no separate measures are needed for external variables. According to Fishbein &


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