Intention-behavior Relations: an Intraindividual Perspective
1University of Zurich, Department of Psychology, Switzerland
Background: A key finding that has spurred self-regulation research in health behavior change is the intention-behavior gap; people often do not enact intended behaviors. However, this has mostly been studied based on interindividual differences. It is unclear whether these relationships also hold at the intraindividual level. We aimed at investigating this at the example of unhealthy snack consumption. Methods: After completing a baseline questionnaire, N=50 students of the University of Konstanz were prompted five times a day to fill in a 7-day online diary assessing snack consumption and cognitions via their smartphones. Findings: At the interindividual level, multilevel models indicated the intention-behavior gap: differences in person-averaged intentions were not significantly associated with the amount of unhealthy snacks consumed. Intraindividual level results, however, did not. On days with stronger intentions to avoid unhealthy snacks than usual, unhealthy snacking was reported less. Discussion: The results underline the importance of behavioral intentions and of investigating behavior change mechanisms at the intraindividual level in daily life.