British Journal of Social Psychology

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Volume 34 Issue 3 (September 1995), Pages 223-350

Do people really distinguish between behavioural and normative beliefs? (pages 257-266)

Several theories (e.g. Ajzen, 1988; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Triandis, 1980) imply that people distinguish between beliefs about the consequences of performing a behaviour and beliefs about the opinions of important others toward performing that behaviour. In order to test this, subjects were presented with ‘behavioural’ or ‘normative’ items that were relevant to the performance of a behaviour. Experimental group subjects in two experiments were asked to decide, on the basis of these items, whether or not they would perform the behaviour. Control group subjects were given other processing objectives; these were different in the two experiments. All subjects were asked to recall the items. According to the distinction between behavioural and normative beliefs, experimental group subjects' recall protocols should be clustered by belief type, but this should not be true for control group subjects. Findings from two experiments were consistent with predictions. Finally, a third experiment, in which subjects wrote down beliefs that were not presented by an experimenter, further supported a distinction between these two types of beliefs.

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