The Role of Action Control in Implementing Intentions During the First Weeks of Behaviour Change

Falko Sniehotta, G. Nagy, U. Scholz, R. Schwarzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Prevailing social cognition models consider behavioural intentions as immediate precursors of actions. This view ignores the role of more proximal self-regulatory processes, such as action control. The latter emerges after an intention has been formed and is supposed to maintain the level of intentions over time and to translate them into action. Three facets of action control were examined in terms of their predictive power for changes in intentions and for physical exercise: (a) awareness of standards, (b) self-monitoring, and (c) self-regulatory effort. A parsimonious 6-item instrument was administered to 122 cardiac patients at six weekly measurement points in time following rehabilitation. A distinction was made between the level of action control and the degree of change in action control, applying a latent growth model. While awareness of standards remained stable, the other two facets exhibited a linear change over the six-week period. Level and change were distinct predictors of physical exercise and changes in intentions. These findings emphasize the importance of self-regulatory mechanisms in the first weeks of trying to overcome a sedentary lifestyle. Action control may be a promising construct to narrow the intention-behaviour gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

Keywords

  • PLANNED BEHAVIOR
  • SELF-REGULATION
  • PHYSICAL-EXERCISE
  • EFFICACY
  • SYSTEMS
  • HEALTH
  • REHABILITATION
  • MECHANISMS

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