Mind the Gap? An Intensive Longitudinal Study of Between-Person and Within-Person Intention-Behavior Relations

Jennifer Inauen, Patrick E. Shrout, Niall Bolger, Gertraud Stadler, Urte Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite their good intentions, people often do not eat healthily. This is known as the intention-behavior gap. Although the intention-behavior relationship is theorized as a within-person process, most evidence is based on between-person differences. Purpose: The purpose of the present study is to investigate the within-person intention-behavior association for unhealthy snack consumption. Methods: Young adults (N = 45) participated in an intensive longitudinal study. They reported intentions and snack consumption five times daily for 7 days (n = 1068 observations analyzed). Results: A within-person unit difference in intentions was associated with a halving of the number of unhealthy snacks consumed in the following 3 h (CI95 27–70 %). Between-person differences in average intentions did not predict unhealthy snack consumption. Conclusions: Consistent with theory, the intention-behavior relation for healthy eating is best understood as a within-person process. Interventions to reduce unhealthy snacking should target times of day when intentions are weakest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-522
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Keywords

  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Health behavior
  • Intention-behavior gap
  • Intraindividual and interindividual associations
  • Snack consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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