Habit versus planned behaviour: A field experiment

Bas Verplanken, Henk Aarts, Ad Van Knippenberg, Anja Moonen

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Abstract

A field experiment investigated the prediction and change in repeated behaviour in the domain of travel mode choices. Car use during seven days was predicted from habit strength (measured by self-reported frequency of past behaviour, as well as by a more covert measure based on personal scripts incorporating the behaviour), and antecedents of behaviour as conceptualized in the theory of planned behaviour (attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and behavioural intention). Both habit measures predicted behaviour in addition to intention and perceived control. Significant habit × intention interactions indicated that intentions were only significantly related to behaviour when habit was weak, whereas no intention-behaviour relation existed when habit was strong. During the seven-day registration of behaviour, half of the respondents were asked to think about the circumstances under which the behaviour was executed. Compared to control participants, the behaviour of experimental participants was more strongly related to their previously expressed intentions. However, the habit-behaviour relation was unaffected. The results demonstrate that, although external incentives may increase the enactment of intentions, habits set boundary conditions for the applicability of the theory of planned behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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