Plans, Performances, and Experiences: A Theory of Goal Directed Behaviors and Outcomes

1986| Working Paper No. 861

This paper presents an integrative theoretical framework explaining goal achievement and behavioral performance and then tests the theory in head-to-head comparisons with the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior. Our theory goes beyond earlier approaches in four ways. First, attitude is conceptualized as a triparite construct reflecting reactions toward success, failure, and the process of striving for a goal or attempting to perform a behavior. Second, three separate senses of control are integrated within the theory: perceived control (i.e., self-efficacy), trait control (e.g., internal/external control of reinforcements), and actual (i.e., situationally contingent) control. Third, a costruct termed trying is introduced as an intervening variable between intentions and goal attainment/behavioral performance. Finally, the roles of habit and mindless processes are introduced as necessary explanatory variables. Findings are reported from a longitudinal study of losing weight (the goal) and initiating a conversation with an attractive stranger (the behavior). Overall, considerably more variance is explained in goal attainment, behavior, trying, intentions, and attitude by the proposed theory of goal directed behaviors and outcomes than by either the theory of reasoned action or the theory of planned behavior.