Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior Applied to the Use of Social Networking by College Students




Cameron, Rebecca

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The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) predicts that planned behaviors are determined by behavioral intentions which are largely influenced by an individual’s attitude toward a behavior, the subjective norms encasing the execution of the behavior, and the individual’s perception of their control over the behavior (Ajzen, 1975). Ajzen’s theory has been used to predict an array of behaviors (Martin et al., 2010; Quine & Rubin, 1997; Stone, Jawahar, & Kisamore, 2010). Social networking sites are defined as online products such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or other websites focused on maintaining and/or building relationships. The current study surveyed 221 participants about their use of these sites and projected assistance offered to others with social networking among hypothetical friends and relatives at ages: 20, 40 and 60 years. Participants' age varied from 18 to 27 years or older (M = 20.37) and was comprised of 71 males, 148 females. Purposes of this study were to: (1) assess the effectiveness of the TPB in predicting students’ use of social networking sites (SNS); (2) determine the participants' estimates of a hypothetical student’s success in helping another use SNS; (3) measure the estimation of the hypothetical student’s required time to help another use SNS. Success and Time estimates in the hypothetical scenarios depended upon the recipient’s age (20, 40, or 60 years) and relationship (acquaintance or relative). Hypotheses were: (1) factor analysis will show that items for each of the TPB’s components will correlate with the other items within the same component and (2) the factor analysis will lead to a regression model showing that SNS use conforms to Ajzen’s model. Further, a predictive model for helping others in the use of SNS can be produced in order to predict responses to the hypothetical assistance scenarios. Finally, we predicted significant age and relationship differences will occur in estimates for Success and Time required facilitating other's SNS use in the hypothetical scenarios, while participants will estimate the least Success and most estimated Time required in helping 60 year olds. Results showed that Ajzen’s model was not supported. Factor Analysis showed that Intention and Behavior factors were highly correlated and not separate factors. A regression model showed that Behavior and prior Help experience predicted the estimated success in helping 20-year olds, with Behavior explaining a greater proportion of the variance than prior USE. Prior experience helping others and Behavior were also predictive in the 40 and 60 year old groups, but with helping being the stronger predictor. Further, two repeated measures 3x2 ANOVAs showed: learner's age had a significant effect on estimated Success for facilitating others with SNS use, and relationship had a significant effect on estimated amount of Time required. Estimated Success in SNS use decreased with increasing age. The lowest estimated Success was helping the 60 year old group (mean success scores of hypothetical 60-year old relatives and 60-year old acquaintances). These findings suggest that the TPB does not predict routinized SNS use behaviors; other studies reported either novel behaviors (Quine & Rubin, 1997) or the cessation of addictive behaviors (Hoie, Moan,& Rise, 2009). Although the age demographic above 50 years is the fastest growing SNS user age (Madden, 2010), our results showed possible age stereotyping in assisting older individuals in the use of SNS.



Ajzen's theory of planned behavior, social networking, college students


Cameron, R. R. (2010). Ajzen's theory of planned behavior applied to the use of social networking by college students (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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