The incredible idea behind taking a course such as Theories of Persuasion is that a student can discover the principles and theories behind everyday decision making and beliefs. What may seem like simple ideas, in reality, are very complex processes. Fishbein and Ajzen, two researchers being discussed in class, brought to light their theory known as the Theory of Planned Behavior. In it they describe the intricacies of building attitudes and making behavioral decisions. By providing a brief summary of the theory, a real life example that directly relates to the theory, and an analysis of the possible outcomes of the theory, it becomes clear that Fishbein and Ajzen contributed significantly to the world of persuasion research. The Theory of Planned Behaviors is far more complex than just making behavioral decisions. It involves a well defined relationship between the Expectancy Value Theory, Subjective Norms, and Self Efficacy. In order to properly establish this relationship it is necessary to supply some definitions of the previously mentioned terms. The Expectancy Value Theory plainly states that “for behaviors, our attitudes were a function of our beliefs that an outcome would occur, and an emotional evaluation of that outcome.” There is a mathematical advantage that applies your rating of certain factors and weighs the positives versus the negatives. The second term that applies to the theory at hand is Subjective Norms. It a simple idea that consists of attitude determination in two separate parts. Firstly, the person considers what others think he or she should do and, secondly, whether or not the person wants to “conform to these social pressures”. Once again the term can be expressed in mathematical terms by weighing the importance between social acceptance and personal satisfaction. The last term needed to be defined is efficacy. The person making the decision needs to question whether the behavior is realistic or possible. It is these three terms, collectively, that constitutes the overall theory. The theory suggests that a person’s behavioral intentions guide their actual behaviors. These intentions are the result of the person’s close examination of their Attitudes (EVT), Subjective Norms, and Self Efficacy. A real life situation that is applicable to the theory is really open to a degree of creativity. To spice up the topic a bit, it is interesting to look at the theory in terms of pre-marital sex and peer pressure. The problem with pre-marital sex is that it a controversial issue among many parents, primarily those who follow close religious beliefs. However, today’s youth has a quite differing opinion. Many feel pressure to have sex while in high school, often times, just for the sake of having the experience. This arises many issues such as facing the peer pressure of having sex before one is ready, concerning over possible results of sex, and pleasing parents’ wishes. This practical situation involves close analysis of a person’s attitudes, subjective norms, and the efficacy of actually taking part in the sexual act. In order to better demonstrate the relationship between the example and the theory it is crucial to make specific and very descriptive ties between the two. The obvious connection that is more of an individual situation that doesn’t involve the peer pressure or parental intervention is that all individuals have preconceived ideas and attitude about pre-marital sex. Either they think it is socially acceptable or they don’t. Many people differ in their attitudes. The degree can be that of sex being acceptable only with feelings of love or if both people mtually consent. The attitude the person has, whatever it may be, directly relates to the outside opinions and views of his or friends and parents. Some friends might persuade someone that sex is cool and is a reason for popularity while others might leave it a personal decision. On the same token, parents might want to affect your attitudes and opinion by claiming that sex is dangerous and should be waited for while others keep it private and personal, like some of the friends previously mentioned. The last relation being discussed is that of efficacy. Once a person meets someone who is under consideration as a partner for sex, the person thinks to him or herself “Can I actually go through with this? Do I want to risk pregnancy or an STD?”. The subjective norms play a major role in this scenario because pleasing your parents seems to be a huge sexually related issue. The reason for this is that teen pregnancy or diseases are highly negative issues in our society. Reputations seem to be scarred under both these circumstances in addition to any permanent damage a sexually transmitted disease can cause. With regard to the theory of planned behavior, the mos
t important concept behind the combination of factors that determine your behaviors is that of consistency. More specifically, also tying into the real life example, individuals who are confident in their attitudes about pre-marital sex aren’t impacted as strongly by their parents’ and friends’ views. They know what they want and what means they will take to get it. By being consistent in one’s attitudes it is harder to be persuaded. Thus the theory of planned behavior relies more on attitudes and self efficacy than on subjective norms. However, that is not to say that parents and friends have zero impact on the individual in question. There is always some kind of reflection of a child’s attitude of his or her parent’s. The same goes with a friend. Although you may not directly correlate your attitude with someone else’s there is an indirect correlation. It is obvious that Fishbein and Ajzen put a great deal of thought into their work. It is justly a well though out theory that covers practically every detail of behavioral intentions and the actions following. Their theory applies to so many real life situations that it is practical to be aware of what kind of impact you have on yourself and, more importantly, the persuasion others have on us.