Hi everyone, I’m back after a bit of a break for Christmas with a post that’s pretty relevant to this time of year.. how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. If you want to exercise more, or stop smoking, then look no further -this is the post for you.
When we write down our resolutions, we tend to picture ourselves in a few months time, and how happy/healthier we will feel. But year after year, we fail to accomplish these goals – stats have shown that as many as 80% of New Year’s resolutions remain incomplete.
So once you’ve decided on your realistic goal, for example getting more exercise, how can you use psychology to predict your success? One well known model is social psychology is the Theory of Planned Behaviour, developed by Icek Azjen (1991). This theory aimed to improve the predictive abilities of previous theories by adding the influence of our behavioural intentions. The process of changing behaviours according to this model is shown in the flow chart below:
As you can see from this diagram, this theory distinguishes between 3 different types of beliefs: behavioural, normative, and control. So therefore, our intentions to change behaviour are influenced by:
- Our attitudes towards that behaviour e.g. ‘I believe that exercising more will benefit me.. exercising is a positive behaviour’
- Other people’s attitudes towards this behaviour (subjective norm) e.g. ‘My family think I should exercise more.. most people view exercise as a positive behaviour’
- Our perceived control beliefs about the behaviour e.g. ‘I know I will be able to make time for exercise if I try’.
These beliefs then impact our intention to change our behaviours – for example if we believe that exercising more will benefit us, something which others agree with, and we believe we will be able to carry out the behaviour successfully, then our intention to change will be stronger. Therefore, we will be more likely to change our behaviour and achieve our goal. Studies have shown that it is our perceived behavioural control which mainly improves the prediction of actually carrying out behaviours from the intention to change, and is mainly applied to health behaviours such as stopping smoking or drinking too much.
I hope you found this post useful and that it will help you achieve your resolutions this year – let’s lower that 80%!