The reasoned action approach applied to health behavior: Role of past behavior and tests of some key moderators using meta-analytic structural equation modeling
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Rationale: The reasoned action approach (RAA) is a social cognitive model that outlines the determinants of intentional behavior. Primary and meta-analytic studies support RAA predictions for multiple health behaviors. However, including past behavior as a predictor in the RAA may attenuate model effects. Direct effects of past behavior on behavior may reflect non-conscious processes whereas indirect effects of past behavior through social cognitive variables may represent reasoned processes. Objective: The present study extended a previous meta-analysis of the RAA by including effects of past behavior. The analysis also tested effects of candidate moderators of model predictions: behavioral frequency, behavior type, and measurement lag. Method: We augmented a previous meta-analytic data set with correlations between model constructs and past behavior. We tested RAA models that included and excluded past behavior using meta-analytic structural equation modeling and compared the effects. Separate models were estimated in studies on high and low frequency behaviors, studies on different types of behavior, and studies with longer and shorter measurement lag. Results: Including past behavior attenuated model effects, particularly the direct effect of intentions on behavior, and indirect effects of experiential attitudes, descriptive norms, and capacity on behavior through intentions. Moderator analyses revealed larger intention-behavior and past behavior-behavior effects in high frequency studies, but the differences were not significant. No other notable moderator effects were observed. Conclusion: Findings indicate a prominent role for non-conscious processes in determining health behavior and inclusion of past behavior in RAA tests is important to yield precise estimates of model effects.
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