The theory of planned behaviour is a model of behaviour that in simple terms assumes that attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control influence intention, and intention and actual control influence behavior.

I'm writing a paper that includes a measures of personality and a measure of the theory of planned behaviour. I sometimes need to refer to the variables attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control as a set. In particular, I often need to distinguish these variables from the personality variables. However, it typically seems a bit verbose to have to say "attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control" all the time.


  • What is a general word or short phrase to capture attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control?
  • Update: Even if it is better to generally refer to the three variables individually, what term describes this set of variables or what makes them distinct from other kinds of psychological variables like personality, intention, etc.?

McFarland and Ryan (2006) have an article applying the theory of planned behaviour to job applicant faking behaviour.

They use phrases:

  • "components of beliefs that influence intention"
  • "attitudes, subjective norms, and PBC"; i.e., they abbreviate perceived behavioural control (PBC) to make the phrase shorter
  • "the TPB predicts the intention to fake"; i.e., they use the "theory of planned behaviour" as a proxy for "attitudes, subjective norms, and PBC". Technically, the TPB is a theory that describes relationships between a set of variables. So this may work, but it is not using TPB as a proxy for attitudes, subjective norms, and PBC.
  • "beliefs": as in "relationship between beliefs and the intention to fake". This is a slightly simplification of the TPB. Attitudes are not just beliefs, but when presented in context, this seems clear.
  • "antecedents of intention": as in "relationship between antecedents of intentions and intention to fake". Presumably this works in contexts where the only predictors of intentions are attitudes, subjective norms, and PBC, but doesn't work if you have other types of antecedents.

Courneya et al (1999) have an article on personality, theory of planned behaviour and exercise behaviour. They refer to the TPB variables as:

  • "social-cognitive constructs"


  • 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(4), 317-324.
  • $\begingroup$ I've also seen PBC used before elsewhere, that could be a way to go. $\endgroup$ May 2 '15 at 8:03

I understand the sentiment, but keep it verbose―it's not a good idea to literally mince words when it comes to key variables without a more concrete reason than aesthetics.

Making up a novel term to group the variables just for this paper will put distance between your paper and the rest of the literature, make it harder to search (for/in) digitally, and effectively makes it more difficult to read. It makes the paper shorter, but not conciser.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 I think this is a good sentiment. $\endgroup$
    – Jeromy Anglim
    May 2 '15 at 7:36

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