Missed by an inch or a mile? Predicting the size of intention-behaviour gap from measures of executive control
This reading explains the relationships between intention-behaviour gap and the executive control of individuals to maintain their intended behaviour to maintain a healthy diet. The measures of ‘executive control’ ability were used to predict the size of the intention-behaviour gap for two dietary behaviours, such as in this reading, they used eating fruits and vegetable and snacking to illustrate the relationships.
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It is important to understand the consumer’s intention but it is even more critical to understand their behaviour and outcome towards an ideology, a product or even a campaign advertisement, so as to communicate effectively and make the intended/ideal outcome possible.
Ultimately, the behavioural intentions do not lead to the changes in the final behaviour. Most of the time when we decided on a healthy diet, we did it through our ‘intention’ that we want to lead a healthy lifestyle, however to put it to ‘action’ is another story. The intention-behaviour gap is the discrepancy between the intended and enacted actions.
Executive control processes are conceptualised as the abilities that individuals take with them at any given situation that relates to an intended behaviour.
Executive control is thought to be heavily involved in any behaviour that requires:
1) Planning and decision-making
2) Error monitoring and correction
3) Sequencing of actions
4) Complex actions
5) Inhibition of habitual responses
6) Novel actions
Four main components regarding executive control were focused in the two studies discussed in the reading that were the most significant for intention-behaviour, they are Planning, Inhibition, Cognitive flexibility and Task switching.
To attain the intended goal, it is essential to have good planning. A person with a structured and feasible plan are link with situational cue (contextual cues in the environment that signal a person that an action or event may occur.), this leads to little need for the person to deliberately follow his planned action.
Good planners produce more effective plans spontaneously and therefore have less capacity to benefit from the provision of structured plans.
Inhibition here does not refer to embarrassment or self-consciousness, it refers to the ability to suppress dominant responses or desires if they are not in line with the current task that one aims to achieve.
3) Cognitive flexibility
Flexibility is important in goal pursuit as a person that is flexible, will generate multiple different ways of realising intentions and multiple alternative solutions to problems that arise.
4) Task switching
Task switching is the ability that reflects the reconfiguration of current task set to allow a different task to be undertaken. For example in the case when goal is novel and difficult from the current task, good task switching hence came in and initiate an alternative to the similar-goal task set. Effective task switching would be expected to reduce the demands on other executive control processes during the implementation of the intended actions.
Therefore the four key factors discussed above are essential for a goal to be attained, but they are not the more influential factors towards human behaviour. Personal experiences can be another important factor that may change a person’s intended behaviour.
What other factors do you think may affect an individual from achieving their intended goals?
Allan, J., Johnston, M., & Campbell, N. (2011). Missed by an inch or a mile? Predicting the size of intention-‐behaviour gap from measures of executive control. Psychology & health, 26(6), 635-‐650.