Decision models and behavioral intention theories, which have vast research, fortunately can serve as further explanatory mechanisms about how people think about engaging in the different social network roles in dynamic network theory. For example, should I support my friend's new idea (S role)? Should I start important parts of a new project on my own (G role)? The theories outlined below can help explain how people engage in the decision and intention formation process for any of the social network roles in dynamic network theory, from a more explicit (than implicit) psychological approach. It also explores why people may engage in a role or combination of multiplex roles in the first place.
Traditional Behavioral Intention Theories
Contemporary behavioral intention theories have greatly advanced our scientific understanding of behavior. These theories rely on the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) and the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991), which are directly connected to our Lab’s lineage and conceptual history. In general, these frameworks propose that intentions are the best predictors of human behavior and that people's attitudes, feelings of social pressure (i.e., subjective norm), and perceived control predict intentions. These theories have received tremendous support in many behavioral domains (Ajzen, 2001; Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Sheppard, Hartwick, & Warshaw, 1988) and are some of the most widely, if not the most widely applied theories in psychology, based on Web of Science indicators. Although these theories have been critical for understanding behavior, they have not incorporated how people's "reasons" may theoretically impact motivational processes. Thus, Westaby (2005) created behavioral reasoning theory to address the theoretical and empirical importance of utilizing people's own reasons, explanations, and justificaitons in contemporary theories of behavior.
What is Behavioral Reasoning Theory?
Behavioral reasoning theory is a broad theory of behavior that can be used to explain the motives underlying human behaviors. According to this theory, intentions predict behavior, global motives (e.g., attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control) and reasons predict intentions, and beliefs and values predict reasons. Reasons also become stronger once behavior is executed, often through post-decision dissonance and rationalization processes.
Other Distinguishing Features and Assumptions in Behavioral Reasoning Theory
Reference for the originating theory paper:
Westaby, J.D. (2005). Behavioral Reasoning Theory: Identifying New Linkages Underlying Intentions and Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 98, 97-120.
Despite the power of such theorizing above to predict and explain the psychological states underlying specific behaviors, they have difficulty describing, explaining, and visualizing the larger behavior in rich complex human systems. Thus, judgment and decision concepts above are subsumed within components in dynamic network theory, which attempts to explain complex systems in multiple contexts at multiple levels, while remaining connected to underlying psychological models that have strong scientific support.
What's New with BRT?
The Lab's work has taken propositions from behavioral reasoning theory and applied them to help people make important decisions in their lives. Using advanced survey tools and computer programming, Westaby created the Decision Making Calculator. This uses his Pro, Con, and Counterargument approach, grounded in the theory, to also predict decision confidence, satisfaction, and potentially mitigated regret.
Copyright James D. Westaby (C). All rights reserved.