Incorporating Motives into the Theory of Planned Behavior: Implications for Reducing Alcohol Abuse among College Students

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Virginia Tech


College alcohol abuse continues as a major public-health concern. Theory-driven research is necessary to address the severe negative consequences of this college drinking. One theory that offers particular promise is the theory of planned behavior (TPB). This theory posits that attitudes, perceived behavioral control, subjective norms, and intentions are the causal underpinnings of behavior. The current research investigates the utility of this theory in predicting college-student drinking behavior and investigates the potential benefit of including "motives" as an additional theoretical construct. In total, 316 students completed two electronic surveys. The first survey measured participants" standing on TPB constructs and motives. The second survey, administered two weeks later, asked participants about their alcohol consumption over the prior two weeks. Results not only shed light on the severity of the college drinking culture, but also offered a potential theoretical mechanism to promote positive behavior change. While the average participant reported consuming alcohol at binge drinking levels, the TPB with the inclusion of motives offered promise. Using structural equation modeling, this proposed model explained 71% of the variance in drinking intentions and 83% of the variance in self-reported drinking behavior in the follow-up survey. Motives added significantly to this model, indicating future TPB studies may benefit from including motives as an additional theoretical construct.



theory of planned behavior, student, college, alcohol, motive