The theory of planned behaviour is a popular model of human behaviour. I.e., Broadly the model suggests that intentions to act are a function of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control. And behaviour is a function of intentions and actual ability to act which is reflected typically in perceptions of control. The theory of planned behaviour has been applied to many domains (e.g., smoking, exercise, gambling, etc.).

I was curious whether any researchers have attempted to integrate modes of trait personality, and the Big 5 personality in particular with the theory of planned behaviour. I assume that any such integration would be somewhat domain dependent.

  • What theories have been proposed relating Big 5 personality factors with theory of planned behaviour?
  • What relationships have been obtained in empirical studies between Big 5 personality and theory of planned behaviour?
  • $\begingroup$ I think I updated this to what you were looking for now as I felt the previous answer was undeserving. Let me know what you think. $\endgroup$
    – user3433
    Aug 25, 2013 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ I see you're doing a study on the effect of faking on Big 5 and how the correlation changes when you mess with the natural variables. That's pretty clever actually. Definitely goes down towards a "sellable" road too. :) $\endgroup$
    – user3433
    Aug 25, 2013 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


Edit: Didn't want this question to be stuck with only that first answer I gave, so here is what I believe you were looking for more specifically.

Psychol Health. 2011 Sep;26(9):1113-27. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2011.613995.

The theory of planned behaviour: reactions and reflections.

Ajzen I.


The seven articles in this issue, and the accompanying meta-analysis in Health Psychology Review [McEachan, R.R.C., Conner, M., Taylor, N., & Lawton, R.J. (2011). Prospective prediction of health-related behaviors with the theory of planned behavior: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology Review, 5, 97-144], illustrate the wide application of the theory of planned behaviour [Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211] in the health domain. In this editorial, Ajzen reflects on some of the issues raised by the different authors. Among the topics addressed are the nature of intentions and the limits of predictive validity; rationality, affect and emotions; past behaviour and habit; the prototype/willingness model; and the role of such background factors as the big five personality traits and social comparison tendency.

Abstract doesn't help us much.
No worries, I got the full text too. You can download it here for free: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08870446.2011.613995 or just read the relevant except I took from it:

As have other investigators in the past (Courneya, Bobick, & Schinke, 1999; Rhodes & Courneya, 2003), Rivis et al. (2011) examined the role of the ‘big five’ personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1985) in the context of the TPB. In addition, they also assessed the general tendency to compare oneself to important others. Interestingly, however, rather than postulating a simple effect of these kinds of background factors on intentions and behaviour, their within-subjects methodology allowed them to examine the possibility that these variables influence the predictive validity of intentions relative to perceived prototype similarity (see the earlier discussion of this construct). Although the effects of the big five personality traits and social comparison tendency were quite small, this investigation – like earlier studies by Trafimow and Finlay (1996), Sheeran, Norman, and Orbell (1999) and others – shows that there may be stable individual differences that influence the relative weights of the different predictors in the TPB.

So it looks like this paper's research has found that the effects of the Big 5 personality traits (as well as social comparison tendency) weren't very significant. But, because of the way in which some of the studies ran their methodology or perhaps certain other variables they measured they were able to see a few patterns that at the very least point towards what looks like (unnecessary quote again? yes.) "stable individual differences that influence the relative weights of the different predictors in the TPB." Now I don't know what these differences are as they essentially left that vague. Could they be Big 5 indicators or some other measurement they took? I don't know as I can't access the citations, but....For convenience, I have each of them listed below though in case you do have access. These are all the in-text citations from that excerpt.

Courneya, K.S., Bobick, T.M., & Schinke, R.J. (1999). Does the theory of planned behavior mediate the relation between personality and exercise behavior? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 317–324.

Rhodes, R.E., & Courneya, K.S. (2003). Relationships between personality, an extended theory of planned behaviour model and exercise behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology, 8, 19–36.

Rivis, A., Sheeran, P., & Armitage, C.J. (2011). Intention versusidentification as determinants of adolescents’ health behaviours: evidence and correlates. Psychology and Health, 26, 1128–1142.

Costa Jr, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1985). The NEO Personality Inventory manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Trafimow, D., & Finlay, K.A. (1996). The importance of subjective norms for a minority of people: Between-subjects and within-subjects analyses. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 820–828.

Sheeran, P., Norman, P., & Orbell, S. (1999). Evidence that intentions based on attitudes better predict behaviour than intentions based on subjective norms. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 403–406.

It will make more sense to flip the order of your questions:

"What relationships have been obtained in empirical studies between Big 5 personality and theory of planned behaviour?"

It looks like there isn't much linkage between the two according to the research that has been summarized in that paper. There is a weak affect, but that's not very exciting. If you have access to the journals you may be able to see more of the details but they're already pretty much summarized for you in the paper.

"What theories have been proposed relating Big 5 personality factors with theory of planned behaviour?"

Now they did mention something about how they were able to see some sort of pattern in regards to "individual differences" towards the TPB - but it's somewhat unclear if that's because of other factors or because of interesting patterns they saw in the Big 5 --> TPB data. The full text of those articles would probably reveal that though. I can't pay $50 for each of them though, ha. So that seems to be the most relevant theory regarding their relationship - and depending upon the semantics of the authors as they were somewhat vague.

Once again, they said:

this investigation – like earlier studies by Trafimow and Finlay (1996), Sheeran, Norman, and Orbell (1999) and others – shows that there may be stable individual differences that influence the relative weights of the different predictors in the TPB.

Perhaps Big 5 Traits relate to a certain "stable individual difference" that then tends to relate moreso to a factor/weight in the TPB. They may have found that out in other variables they measured in those studies they cited....there doesn't seem to be much more theory about it out there.

But, as I did before, I'll postulate my own that involves the "Edge Effect" theories and how they could overlap and become a predictor not only psychologically but on a physiological level as well.

Edge Effect Theory

This is essentially a theory in how certain global neurotransmitters create your personality. There's a bunch of tests he gives to determine your archetype. I feel like all three of these could overlap and then concrete evidence could be obtained from that overlapping in the form of maybe even potential physiological studies.

This guy doesn't really cite much (alot of it is just coming from his head - and overall broad definitions of neurotransmitters) but gives some interesting definitions of people based upon their physiology. In particular, relating to dopamine, serotonin, gaba, and acetylcholine dominance.

He classifies personality traits among many other things according to your dominance in these domains. He even provides tests you can take.

Essentially, you can take this book and you can find the references or at least be pointed down the path towards them as you're trying to connect the two theories you cite.

Anyways the book is called the "Edge Effect" by Eric R. Braverman. Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Edge-Effect-Longevity-Advantage/dp/1402722478 (not an affiliate link)

I have the book, obviously, and found it to be pretty interesting in how he relates the neurotransmitters to all sorts of things. If you read it you may find some things start to make sense on an intuitive level no matter how global or generalized they may be and that...he really didn't need citations. There's all sorts of tests he'll have you take that actually do predict many things about yourself - and then he talks about what you should try to eat amino acid wise to naturally balance out certain neurotransmitters.

I know his theories have been criticized as a bit of a global generalization of neurotransmitters....but my defense against that is he is simply bringing them down to a practical level. Otherwise, practicality becomes lost in the complexity.

So another new theory has been proposed by me based upon our potential earlier findings of a potential overlapping 3rd variable instead of direct correlation between the Big 5 & TPB. :)


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